New Delhi: After returning to India from a successful first tournament as Captain of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team which saw World No. 5 team defeat New Zealand 5-0 in the Final, Harmanpreet Singh seemed delighted with the way his team performed at the Olympic Test Event, and says that he took immense pride in leading the country at the highest level for the first time.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved in the team to showcase what they can do. With some experienced players rested for the tournament, we had a fairly younger squad, but it was a great chance for the youngsters to do well and I am really pleased with the way everyone stepped up. The team performed well against teams like Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand, and it was an immensely proud moment for me to have led the Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the very first time,” stated the 23-year-old.
India had a great start to the Olympic Test Event as they registered a 6-0 win against Malaysia in their opening match before losing to New Zealand 1-2 in their second match, and then coming back strongly in their last round-robin match to defeat hosts Japan 6-3 and secure a place in the Final.
The Indian drag-flicker managed to score twice for the Indian team, and both the goals came against New Zealand, the first coming in the 1-2 loss in round-robin match, while the other was India’s opening goal in the Final on Wednesday.
The drag-flicker spoke about his goal-scoring ability, and says that he wants to score consistently for India. “Scoring is something that I have really worked on since the Junior team days, and to be able to help the team in scoring some important goals at crucial junctures in a match is something that motivates me even further. I have worked on my drag-flicking with the Coaches, and finally it is showing on the field as well, and I am really pleased with it, but will continue to keep working,” he said.
Harmanpreet Singh made his debut for the Indian team in May 2015 against Japan during a Test Series in Bhubaneswar, and went on to become one of the youngest players in the Indian unit that played at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Since then, the 23-year-old has taken part in most major tournaments for India, including two FIH Champions Trophy held in 2016 and in 2018, Commonwealth Games 2018, Asian Games 2018 and the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018, but is now striving to focus on the task ahead. “It was a great experience for me to have played at the last Olympics, but we came up short in our ambitions. However, the team is now quite focused on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and once we manage to do that, the hard work will continue to happen as we want to achieve something huge with this current team,” signed off Singh.