Exclusion from Commonwealth Games’ squad was a shocker, reveals Sardar Singh

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Exclusion from Commonwealth Games’ squad was a shocker, reveals Sardar Singh

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SportsCafe Desk

08/01/2018

Sardar Singh has revealed that he was shocked from the Indian Hockey team after being excluded from the squad for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year. Sardar has been a part of the Indian team for the past twelve years and has appeared in 300 matches with sixteen goals under his belt.

The former skipper had a rough patch being in and out of the Indian squad for almost six months. He was dropped from the 18-man squad for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games which was completely unexpected. Post the Commonwealth Games, Harendra Singh took over the responsibility of the team from Sjoerd Marijne as the head coach of the Indian team and the Indian made sure that Sardar was called back into the national team.

Speaking of his unforgettable six months, Sardar said that things were normal initially as he felt that the coach wanted to encourage youngsters. But, when Sardar was made to lead an inexperienced side at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in April during the Commonwealth Games, something did not seem right to the veteran. However, he did not think much about it and focused on his duties. Later on, when the squad was announced, Sardar was not even among the standbys. This came as a shock to the midfielder which was hard to digest.

“After we won the Asia Cup, the coach (Sjoerd Marijne) told me that he wanted to try others from the 42-player core group as well. I was dropped for the following two-three tours. I did not mind it as I thought the coach wanted to try out the youngsters as well. But, when I was asked to lead a young side at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, I had a feeling that something was amiss. However, I did not think much about it and carried on with what was expected of me. Soon the squad for the CWG was announced and I was not even among the standbyes. I was just shocked as it was totally unexpected,” Sardar said.

The year 2018, according to Sardar, was very important for Indian hockey as the four-year cycle culminated in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup. He focused on winning a gold medal at the Asian Games so as to directly qualify for the Olympics and said such tournaments come once in four years and one has to prepare well in advance. He further spoke about the uncertainty of the participation in such tournaments given the four-year gap.

“We all know 2018 is a very important year for Indian hockey as three major tournaments (Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup) have been scheduled in the same year. On top of that, we need to win a gold at the Asian Games in order to directly qualify for the Olympics. Every athlete who participates in such tournaments waits eagerly for four years. There are high chances that you won’t be around four years from now. So, through this period I planned and prepared accordingly,” he added.

Things turned around in Sardar’s favour just after India’s new head coach Harendra Singh took over. Speaking of which the 32-year-old said that the coach knew him since 2002 and knew his strengths and weaknesses. He further spoke about the much-needed motivation he got from coach Harendra and concluded by backing the Indian coach.

“Harendra sir has coached me since my junior India days, starting with 2002-03 season. He knows my strengths and weaknesses. He supported me and I felt the positive vibes as soon as he took over. People say Indian coaches are not good, but we want to change that,” Sardar concluded.

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