Asiad disappointment still haunts us: Manpreet

Asiad disappointment still haunts us: Manpreet

Manpreet Singh

The Asiad disappointment still "haunts" and Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh on Wednesday said they will have to approach and play each and every game cautiously in the Asian Champions Trophy.

The disappointment of losing to Malaysia in the semifinals of the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia still lingers.

"It was a tournament we should have won and the disappointment of losing to Malaysia in the semifinal still haunts us," stated the midfielder, who was named the captain for the tournament here.

Over the past three weeks, the Indian men's hockey team has been put through the grind at the Kalinga Stadium -- the venue for the prestigious men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

Doing well at the Asian Champions Trophy will be integral in their preparations for the mega event on home soil later this year.

Manpreet said, "At the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang, I think we were slightly overconfident that we are Asia's No 1 team and this complacency is what we need to avoid during the Hero Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat if we want to retain the title.

"Post the semifinal loss, the team had several meetings to understand where we went wrong and watched the videos from that match numerous times. When we regrouped for the National camp, we told ourselves it's time to move on and we cannot let the past affect our chances at the upcoming two big tournaments."

The defending champions will take on hosts Oman in their opening match on October 18 and play arch-rivals and previous edition's runners-up Pakistan in their second round robin match on October 20.

The captain stated that the challenging weather conditions in Oman will help them acclimatise to the humid playing conditions in Bhubaneswar.

"The playing conditions in Oman will be similar to Bhubaneswar and we are training hard, sometimes train till late in the night as some of our matches start late in the Hero Asian Champions Trophy.

"Our aim going into the tournament is simple. We play to our potential against every team without taking anyone including Oman lightly.

"There won't be any room for complacency. We have watched videos of how each of these teams play and we are prepared for the challenge," he said.

Speaking of his own role in the midfield, in the absence of stalwart Sardar Singh who announced his retirement last month, Manpreet said: "I always aim to do my best for the team and what is expected from me by the team.

"We have youngsters like Nilakanta Sharma who plays beside me and defender Hardik Singh who is making his debut, the seniors constantly talk and communicate on the field to help the youngsters and ensure everyone understands each other's game well.

"Everyone is putting their best effort in our preparations and we have paid a lot of attention to on-field communication apart from other aspects of the game," Manpreet concluded.