Manpreet Singh asserted that Indian team is capable of beating any top side in the world and promised to deliver at least a medal, if not gold, at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Manpreet said the CWG hockey competition is of a high standard with several top teams and his side would have to play their best to win a medal.
He said Indian team has improved vastly since winning a silver at the Glasgow edition.
“We cannot underestimate any team in the CWG where the competition is tough. There is Australia, Great Britain, Pakistan, South Africa and others. Last time, we lost to Australia and won a silver. This time we will do our best and hopefully will win a medal,”
“In the last four years since Glasgow (2014 CWG), we have improved a lot. We have beaten all the top sides in the world, we can beat any team anyday,” said Manpreet, refusing to talk about the colour of the medal.
Australia have won all the gold medals in men’s hockey since its introduction in the 1998 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
Manpreet, who has led the side in the past, was one of the two players rested for the March 3-10 Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in view of the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
“I want to play in every match and tournament, every player wants it. But finally it is the decision of the coach and he gave me rest for Sultan Azlan Shah. I am happy with that. It may turn out to be good for me.”
He termed 2018 as an important year and said a good show in the CWG would boost the confidence of the team going ahead.
“This year is very important, we have CWG, Asian Games and World Cup. If we do well and win the CWG, it will be a big confidence booster going ahead in the year,” said the Punjab player on the sidelines of a sponsorship announcement event of the Indian Olympic Association for the Gold Coast CWG.
“There is a lot of competition within the team and I think it is good for the team.”
Manpreet refused to agree with the notion that the Indian team quite often concedes late goals to squander matches from position of strength.
“It is just that anything can happen on a hockey field. We are also scoring last minute goals these days,” he said.
Defender Rupinder Pal Singh though said the Indian team has the best chance to win a gold this time.
“On the given day, we can beat any team, including Australia. We want to win the gold. I think we have the best chance to beat Australia and win the gold this time,” he said.
“We are playing attacking hockey now, it has become one of our strengths. We are also working on defensive aspects, things like man-to-man marking. We were giving away easy chances in the inner circle and we are trying to improve on those aspects,” said the defender from Punjab.
“We were not mentally strong when I started playing, but over the years we have become stronger.”
He said Sardar Singh’s return in the team and as captain in Azlan Shah Cup, next month will motivate the side.