Impressed by the good start of the Indian team in the ongoing FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, former captain Sardar Singh on Thursday said the team needs to keep the momentum going and play as a collective unit.
“The start has been good,” Sardar said. “In the tournament, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Argentina and Australia are some of the best teams.
“We have started off well and need to keep the momentum going and continue with same energy.”
Sardar was speaking to reporters in Mumbai on the sidelines of a promotional event organised by preventive healthcare firm GOQii, with whom he has signed up.
India began their campaign by thrashing South Africa 5-0 and then drew 2-2 against a strong Belgium side in Group C.
The Manpreet Singh-led team is inching closer to a quarter-final berth with a game in hand against Canada, the fourth team in the group, on Saturday.
Sardar, who retired from the game prior to the mega event, wants the Indian squad to play as a cohesive unit if and when they make the quarter-finals and not just depend on two or three players.
“Tournaments like the World Cup or Olympics come once in four years, so we have been preparing for this for a long,” he said.
“They [the players] know the value of such matches and how every second counts. They will not come back.
“Our main match will be the quarter-finals. And on that day, it will not just be about [PR] Sreejesh, Manpreet... We need to play as a complete unit and play to the potential.
“The energy of two or three players won’t help [in the quarter-finals]. We have to fully concentrate in all the four quarters.
“If we play that well, we can make it count.”
Sardar also praised current team coach Harendra Singh as one of the best in the business.
“Over the last 10 years he has grown immensely. When he was with the women’s team and junior team, he had tasted success,” recalled Sardar.
There were talks in some quarters that the vastly experienced Sreejesh, who is the team’s goalkeeper, has become a bit slow, but Sardar brushed them aside and said the Indian captain was one of the best in the world.
“If we see the Champions Trophy, Sreejesh was named the player of the tournament. He is one of the best in the world. Experience matters a lot,” Sardar said.
Sardar also informed that he was mulling opening an academy in Haryana.
“Talks are on, let’s see how it goes. I plan to play in Europe for the next couple of years,” he said.