Kovilpatti (Tamil Nadu), May 26 (IANS): Defending champions Uttar Pradesh Hockey will take on the free scoring Hockey Haryana while Hockey Chandigarh will be up against Hockey Association of Odisha in the semifinals of the 12th Hockey India Junior Men's National Championship 2022 here on Friday.
Speaking ahead of their semifinal match, Uttar Pradesh Hockey Coach Vikas Pal said, "It is common knowledge by now that Hockey Haryana are a dangerous and attacking team. This is what they have shown in the competition so far. Nevertheless, I am confident in my team's abilities to stand up to the challenge of this difficult opponent and play our best hockey on the day. If we can manage to do that, we have every chance to proceed to the Final."
On the other hand, Hockey Haryana Coach Rajender Kumar Sihag too seemed upbeat about his side's chances of progressing to the final.
"There is no doubt that our Semi Final clash against Uttar Pradesh Hockey will be our toughest match in the tournament so far. We have analysed their games closely and know about their particular strengths and weaknesses on the pitch. We have to focus on our approach to this game and implement the tactics which we have worked on from the start of this tournament. We are in the crucial stages of the competition now, so we have to be careful to avoid making any mistakes on the pitch tomorrow," he said.
In the second semifinal, Hockey Chandigarh will come up against Hockey Association of Odisha, who defeated Hockey Punjab in the last quarterfinal match late on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the semifinal match, Hockey Chandigarh Coach Gurminder Singh said, "Big semifinal matches are always tense affairs where neither team wants to make mistakes and give their opponents any kind of an advantage to capitalize on. While this kind of approach is normal, our main focus will be on playing our natural game and trusting our skills which have gotten us this far into the tournament. Hockey Association of Odisha are a disciplined defensive unit, so we are working on drills in training aimed at applying pressure on their defensive line."
"The Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh region is famous for producing fantastic hockey players and teams playing a fast and attacking style of hockey. This is a challenge which is difficult for any team or coach to deal with, but one that we will relish as we want to play against the best teams in the country. The match tomorrow will be between two sides who are equals in terms of skill and determination. Both teams are capable of progressing to the Final. The mental aspect will be the most important factor in deciding the winner in the match tomorrow," Hockey Association of Odisha Coach Bijay Kumar Lakra said.