Akashdeep Singh has mentioned that one cannot take a particular team for granted in a competition like the FIH Series Finals where a lot of lower-ranked teams are involved. In the third game of the tournament in Bhubaneswar, the Indian men defeated Uzbekistan by a huge margin of 10-0.
With three wins from three games, the hosts of the FIH Series Finals – India have marched into the semi-finals of the tournament without any problems. The Indian men were up against Uzbekistan in their third Group A game on Monday and registered another easy win to storm into the top four. India got three easy games in the group stage with today’s one being the easiest on paper with Uzbekistan ranked 43rd in the FIH Rankings.
However, Akashdeep Singh, who was adjudged Man of the Match for his three goals in today’s game, has made it clear that the team was not taking any game casually and they go into the matches to give their 100 per cent on the turf.
“You can’t take a team easily in these type of competitions. But, we try to keep our attitude good during these matches. We go to give our 100% in the games,” Akashdeep said during the post-match press conference.
After finishing at the top of the group, India will not have to play the cross-over games and will feature in the semi-finals of the competition. As per the Olympic qualifications regulations, a win in the semi-final game will ensure a berth for the Indians in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers which will be played in October-November this year. Akashdeep also said that the team was preparing for the next match towards the end of today’s game.
“Semi-final games of every tournament are important. So we were trying to make us ready for the next game towards the end of today’s game,” the striker informed.
Akashdeep has found his partner in crime Ramandeep Singh back in the team after the latter was sidelined due to a knee injury during the Champions Trophy last year. He made a comeback in this tournament and Akashdeep has said that Ramandeep is improving well with every passing day.
“I feel really good playing alongside him in the Indian team. We have a very good understanding between us both on the turf and off the turf as well. It is always difficult to get back at that level while playing after a year. According to me, he is getting back to his best day by day,” the Punjab forward signed off.
Manpreet Singh stressed on the importance of finishing at the top of the table so that the Indians can now take a break of few days and come fresh for the semi-finals on June 14.
“It was really important for us to finish at the top of the pool because now we can rest for one match and prepare for the semi-finals. We did many good things during this pool phase but still, there is some improvement needed, so we will work and come back good in the semi-finals,” said Indian skipper Manpreet Singh.