Bhubaneswar: Indian hockey stalwarts Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh have given their verdict on the junior team’s preparations for the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup, saying the Colts are shaping up well for the global event and look good to retain the title they won in 2016 (Lucknow).
The FIH Hockey Junior World Cup will commence here November 24 with India taking on France in the opening match of Pool B. The other teams in India’s group are Canada and Poland.
“The team has been doing fantastic during the last couple of months in Bengaluru. Recently, we (senior team) played a couple of games against them. They seemed ready to start the tournament,” said Sreejesh, who was conferred the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award recently.
The India senior team captain Manpreet Singh, who guided the side to bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics bringing home a medal in the sport after 41 years, said the juniors had in fact beaten the senior team in one of the practice games.
“They actually beat us in one of the games we played. I am pretty confident they have the ability to reach the final. And if they continue to play as a team throughout the tournament, they can win the trophy,” said Manpreet.
Manpreet also said that he had spoken to India junior team captain and midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad, and explained to him the virtues of sticking together in the face of reversals.
“I have spoken to Vivek many times. I told him the main thing for them is to remain as a team. Winning and losing is part of the game. But when we lose, there is a tendency to point fingers, but I told him that the team should not do that, and just focus on your game, and just stay as a team. And that will help you win every match,” he said.
Sreejesh said the Indian players will miss the fans at the World Cup but playing at the iconic Kalinga Stadium will be a learning experience.
“I think the players will miss playing in front of the big crowd. That is the beauty of the Kalinga Stadium, the cheers, the sound, they will miss that. Still, I feel the atmosphere will help them to perform really well and will be a big learning experience,” added the goalkeeper.