'Need to play top teams'

Drag-flicker Sandeep says sorry for Oly debacle

Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh on Tuesday said that the Indian hockey team should play against top teams in the world regularly and prepare longer with the same set of players to avoid a London Olympics-like debacle in future.

Indian hockey touched a new low in the just-concluded London Olympics as the eight-time champions finished last in the 12-team men’s competition. Star of the qualifying tournament, Sandeep too failed to live upto the expectations.

“I feel very sorry for the Indian hockey fans. They were expecting a good show from us but we could not live upto the expectations. “ Sandeep said.

“We must play against top teams like Australia, Germany, Holland on the regular basis, which is lacking so far. It will boost our confidence and we will be able to overcome our weaknesses,” said the full-back.

Sandeep said that it’s important to play more and more matches together as a unit. “We have immensely talented players in current team. We just don’t know what went wrong but we have no dearth of talent. If this team, with 10-15 youngsters, is given four years, we can come better in Rio Olympics (in 2016),” he said.

“This is a young team and players are playing together for last one year. You can not be in top five in Olympic after just one year’s preparation. That is why I am focussing on beginning the preparation for next Olympic,” he said.

Asked about the weaker links in the team, he said that there were many areas on which a lot of work needs to be done.

Short corner conversion

“I had worked really hard on penalty corner conversion but after the games I think I have to work harder. I have identified my weaknesses and I am working on those. We have to work on the play after conceding or scoring a goal. Finishing is also a matter of concern,” said the veteran player.

He said that the forward line needs better co-ordination like the one Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur used to have in earlier days.

 “In 2001, 02 and 03 our forward line had Gagan Ajit, Prabhjot, Deepak who were playing together since junior days. Their co-ordination was terrific. We need something like that,” said Sandeep.

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