Did not capture key moments in World Cup, says Manpreet Singh

Did not capture key moments in World Cup, says Manpreet Singh

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Manpreet Singh has admitted that India were unable to capture the decisive moments in the World Cup where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals last year. The skipper also put some blame on their luck for the result going against them and claimed that each player in the squad gave his best.

The past one year has not been good for Indian hockey. After managing to top in the league stages in three major tournaments, they crashed out on each occasion in the knockout stages, thereby ending up without any medals.

In the Commonwealth games last April, the Indian team had lost 2-3 to New Zealand in the semi-finals after finishing at the top in their respective pool. A similar story was again seen in the Asian Games where they topped their pool before losing to Malaysia in the shootout by 7-6, a loss which denied them a direct entry into the Tokyo Olympics. In the World Cup, they crashed out in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands by 2-1 goals after topping the group yet again.

“Luck plays a big role in success. Throughout the World Cup we played well but were unable to capture those key moments when it mattered. We gelled well as a team but couldn't get the results we wanted. We will perform better this season and boys are eager to make a positive start,” Manpreet said, as reported by TOI.

“We were disappointed with the end results of those tournament. We tried our best but luck was not on our side. However, I was proud of the way the team played and everyone gave their 100 percent. These things do happen in big tournaments and all we can do is to train hard and come back as a stronger force."

India will next play in the upcoming eight-team FIH Hockey Series Finals in Bhubaneswar in June from which two teams will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This will now be India's only chance to qualify for the sporting extravaganza.

“We would like to take it one step at a time and not think too far ahead. The Olympic qualifiers will be very crucial for us and we will look to focus on the basics and not concede late goals as that has been a problem off late. We will look to prepare well and I have faith in the boys that we will do well,” the India skipper stated.

Harendra Singh was sacked as the head coach of the hockey team in January after the team's disappointing performance, a regular phenomenon in Indian hockey, but since then, the team has been without a coach.

“It is not difficult to motivate any player when they are representing the country at the international level. They are always self-motivated and want to do well for the team and the nation,” Manpreet said.

The fifth-ranked hockey team in the world is going through a transition phase, and many senior players are injured and have been rested for the ongoing Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, which means that India has fielded a rather inexperienced team. The captain justified this decision by claiming that the players have to be rested so that they can recover soon and give their best in the crucial Olympic qualifiers in June.

“Unfortunately, a few of our key players like V Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh are injured. It is important that they regain full fitness before the FIH Series Final, which will be crucial for us to qualify for Tokyo Olympics. On the other hand, it gives us an opportunity to test the youngsters. They bring more energy on the pitch and we need to give them a platform where they showcase their talent. I am sure the boys will see this as an opportunity more than an adversity and prove that they belong to this level. We might have a young squad but they do have international experience. Their experience will come in handy for us,” Manpreet concluded.

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