Indian men’s hockey team captain PR Sreejesh feels that a bronze medal and win against Pakistan can hardly heal the pain of not being able to win the gold at the Asian Games. India lost to Malaysia in a shoot-off after conceding an equaliser in the final minute of the regulation time. Also Read - Hockey | COVID-19 Experience Made me Mentally Stronger, Says India Men's Captain Manpreet Singh
Being the defending champions and ranked fifth in the world, India were clearly the overwhelming favourites to retain the Asian Games gold and they lived up to the billing in the pool stages, scoring a record 76 goals before the defeat in the semifinals. Also Read - Hockey | Systematic Approach And Two-way Communication Key to Rise in World Rankings: SV Sunil
The defeat sent shock waves in the Indian hockey fraternity and some even said that overconfidence let the team down, but Sreejesh begs to differ. Also Read - Hockey: India Men's Team Captain Manpreet Singh Five Other Players Recover From COVID-19, Discharged From Hospital
“There is no question that we are disappointed. We the players know how hurt we were because we have performed exceedingly well through the year. The bronze is a consolation medal and it can’t heal our pain,” Sreejesh told PTI during an interaction.
There were talks about the team being complacent but Sreejesh begged to differ.
“After the loss to Malaysia, some people said that we became overconfident but it is not true. We were confident, not overconfident. We were confident of beating anyone but silly mistakes cost us dear,” he said.
“In the game against Malaysia, we started well but our tactics of slowing down the game in the middle backfired. It gave the opposition chances to attack us and they took advantage of it.”
The Indians went into the Asiad looking to seal their Olympic berth well in advance but that didn’t happen. Sreejesh, however, said that all is not lost and exuded the confidence of qualifying for the Olympics in future.
“Asian Games is one of the chances to qualify for the Olympics, it’s not the last. There will be ample options available to qualify for the Olympics and we are confident of achieving it,” he said.
“It’s just that we were capable of qualifying from the Asian Games but we couldn’t make it.”
The skipper, however, is confident of turning it around in the season-ending World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar.
“We are top 5 in the world at the moment but in a World Cup, you can’t predict anything because top 16 teams of the world will be there. In the end, it will boil down to how you perform on the ground,” Sreejesh said.
“But if you look at our performance throughout the year we are a podium contender. We just need to maintain our consistency on the turf,” he added.