India 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.
Being the defending champions and ranked fifth in the world, India were overwhelming favourites to retain the Asian Games gold. And they lived upto their billing in the pool stages, scoring a record 76 goals before the defeat in the semi-finals.
The loss sent shock waves in the Indian hockey fraternity and some even said that overconfidence let the team down, but Sreejesh begs to differ. “There is no question that we are disappointed. We the players know how hurt we are because we have performed exceedingly well through the year. The bronze is a consolation medal and it can’t heal our pain,” Sreejesh was quoted as saying by PTI.
Sreejesh brushed aside any talk of complacency creeping into the Indian camp, “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, exuded confidence of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
“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.