PR Sreejesh has stated that only focusing on the youth will not pay dividends and the balance between youth and experience is the way to go for the Indian team. The Indian team management had decided to drop Rupinder Pal Singh, an experienced star, from the World Cup after accessing his form.
The Indian Hockey team lost the quarterfinals of the Odisha Hockey World Cup, which was hosted by India second time in the last decade. The Indian team went down 1-2 in the quarterfinal against the Netherlands. One reason which many pointed out for the Indian team’s failure to go further was given as lack of experience which Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh seemed to agree with.
"See what do you mean by youth, if a youngster comes into the team and he gets three or four more years experience, does it mean he is an old guy. You can't win tournaments just with youngsters. In important matches we need experience.
"If you see Argentina, when they won the Olympic gold in 2016, their average age was 32-33. You need a unique combination, youth as well as having some players with the experience of having played in high-pressure matches," Sreejesh said to PTI.
Sreejesh also backed the current National Hockey coach Harendra Singh to continue in the job despite India finishing sixth at the World Cup. Singh has been at the helm for the Men’s team for just over six months now and Sreejesh believes that the coach should be provided with a longer rope if substantial results are expected from him.
"I have known Harendra sir for the last 14-15 years. Every Indian player knows him for a long time. It is easy for players to be with him. You can't expect a coach to come in and just change everything overnight.
"He needs more opportunities and time to build a good team and focus on the Olympics (in 2020) because that is the biggest challenge coming ahead."
The Indian Hockey team is currently ranked fifth in the FIH rankings for the men’s team. Sreejesh believes that the four quarter per game rule has come to the aid of India and has helped the Indian team improve its performance.
"The four quarters (rule) has helped Indian hockey a lot because we are consistently playing for 25 minutes, in the last 10 minutes we used to lack the energy, we used to forget our game and concede goals.
"Fifteen minutes (per quarter), it has changed the dynamics. In that two-minute break, coaches can give their inputs; players can discuss what is happening in the game and that has helped us to change our game," the ace custodian added.
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