Asia Cup Hockey: India favourites against Pakistan todayOct 15, 2017, 10:14 IST
We are aiming for gold medal at the Asia Cup: ManpreetAshwin FerroMumbaiOct 07, 2017, 10:36 IST
Indian hockey has made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past, be it due to the rape allegations on senior player Sardar Singh or the sacking of its fourth foreign coach in four years, Roelant Oltmans last month.
However, skipper Manpreet Singh and his boys can change all that when they take on the continent's top hockey-playing nations in the Asia Cup (Oct 11-22) in Dhaka.
Manpreet also hopes he can shift the topic from off-field to on-field issues. "It's my humble request to fans to ignore the politics and support us throughout this tournament and we promise to give it our best shot," Manpreet told mid-day after the last practice session in Bangalore yesterday before the team leaves for Dhaka today.
India (World No. 6) is the highest ranked team in the event with their nearest rivals being Malaysia at No 12, and Manpreet admitted that anything less than a gold medal will be viewed as a failure. "The expectations are high but they are fair. We are aiming for nothing less than the gold medal at the Asia Cup. Nothing less will do," he said.
However, with a new coach in Sjoerd Marijne and given the absence of senior players like goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and defenders V Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh, the men in dark blue have their task cut out. "Sreejesh is the world's best goalkeeper but we have back ups for him in young goalkeepers Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera.
Harmanpreet Singh is a brilliant drag flicker too. Besides I also have senior players like SV Sunil (vice captain) and Sardar Singh to guide me. This team is a good mix of youth and experience and with coach Marijne's touch-and-go style of play we are confident of going all the way," Manpreet signed off.
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