Punjab skipper Sardar Singh believes that the HIL defending champions, Punjab Warriors, can lift the trophy once again and he can personally give his best performance in the league. The 30-year-old has also said that the league is a great platform for youngsters to learn from the best in the sport.
Punjab Warriors won the last edition of the Hockey India League by defeating the Bhubaneswar-based franchise Kalinga Lancers 6-1 in the final at the Birsa Munda Stadium in Ranchi. Sardar Singh believes that Punjab can recreate the same performance this year as well.
"The best thing is that there is not much change in the team. Apart from a couple of changes, the management decided to retain the same winning squad which will be good for us. We know each other well and won’t take much time to adjust. We will go with the same strategy as we followed in the last season," the Punjab skipper told News18.com in an exclusive interview.
"Our main aim will be winning the title once again. We have plans in our mind and we want to execute those on the field,” he added.
Sardar said that he was confident he could give his best performance for his side adding that the eventual plan was to get ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"I want to play my best hockey as I am focusing on the coming four years (leading up to the Tokyo Olympics). I have to maintain my fitness. The skills that I have developed will stay with me, just need to be relaxed on the ground.”
The defending champions, Punjab Warriors, have a good blend of youth and experience in their squad and Sardar is more than eager to make the best use of the resources to defend the title.
He said, "We have experienced players in the squad. Mark Knowles, Matt Gohdes, Robert van der Horst are the players who can change the game at any point of time. We have two youngsters – Ajit Kumar Pandey and Hardik Singh - who have recently won the Junior World Cup. They are keen to do well in the league. We have an experienced Australian coach Barry Dancer."
"The team is ready. All we want is to go and perform. I am sure we will win this season too.”
On being asked about how HIL is helping the young players, Sardar replied, "Hockey India League is a great platform for youngsters. Star players and coaches from all over the world participate in the HIL. Our players get the chance to interact with them and learn the various aspects of the sport."
"When you compete with big stars, you learn a lot," he concluded.