Mumbai: Not long after Manpreet Singh was named as India hockey team skipper following P.R. Sreejesh being sidelined with a knee injury, the team triumphed at the Asia Cup, bringing the trophy home after a wait of 10 long years. The 25-year old was handed the captain’s armband a month prior to World League semi-finals. The captain role was not stressful for Manpreet but he admits that his personal best is yet to come.
Just like any big player, the Jalandhar lad accepts that he made a few mistakes at the tournament and is keen to improve. “I am playing well but I am not at my best. I need to learn many things about the game. I know that I made mistakes in the Asia Cup but Sardar (Singh) had my back. I share my problems with him and S.V. Sunil, they have both been really positive,” said Manpreet.
The absence of Sreejesh in goal is felt as he is among the top goalkeepers of the world, which puts pressure on the defense. Manpreet feels that the goalie’s absence is an issue but the captaincy is not. “With the band or without the band, I don’t feel any pressure. I just want to give my best on the ground,” he said.
“I will not mind (giving up the captaincy on Sreejesh’s return), he is the best in the world and it is the coach’s decision,” he added. Top competitions are lined up for India and the next few months will not be easy. The World League Finals commence from December 1 in Bhubaneswar, and the skipper does not want to disappoint the home crowd. “Firstly we are hosts, and second, we are playing against top teams. We will meet Australia so we need to prepare ourselves well,” asserted Manpreet who is a Red Bull athlete.
Manpreet praises the new coach Sjoerd Marijne for his approach during the Asia Cup. “The coach is really friendly and a positive person. On the ground or off the ground, he always motivates us,” he said....