‘Everyone has to be aware of his responsibilities’

India will face Australia in a three-match test series later this month, ahead of the Hockey World League Final in Raipur.

Sardar Singh (left) with V. R. Raghunath and S. V. Sunil after training at the SAI South Centre.   -  K Murali Kumar

With nine months left for the Olympic Games, Sardar Singh believes that India has to learn quickly if it is to find success in Rio de Janiero. “We don't have a lot of time left. The boys are improving day by day in training sessions. But everyone has to be aware of his responsibilities in the team,” he said at the National camp at the Sports Authority of India here.

India will face Australia in a three-match test series later this month, ahead of the Hockey World League Final in Raipur.

“The result of the Australia series will have no impact on us,” Sardar said. “We don’t have much time. We have 20-25 matches left before the Games against quality opponents. We’ll have to play each match like we’re already playing in the Olympics. We need to do well in the HWL. It will help us recognize our mistakes now, nine months before the Olympics.”

The Indian captain stated that the team's defence did not worry him.

“Defence is not just about the back four. People think our defence is weak. It is a team game and the defence starts from the front. The furthest man forward is the first line of defence. Our defence will work well if all the forwards and midfielders support them and communicate well,” he said.

Although pleased with victory in the New Zealand series, Sardar felt sterner tests would be a truer indication of the team's standing. “If want to win a medal (at the Games), we have to beat good teams like Australia, the Netherlands and Germany,” he said.

“The coach is concentrating on balancing defence and attack. We also have meetings after each session. We are learning our responsibilities in certain situations – how to attack when we are one man less and how to overwhelm the opponent when they are one man down.”

The 29-year-old revealed that the team would soon be working with a sports psychologist, something that has been tried previously.

“It was thought that we needed a psychologist,” he said. “Hockey India said they would provide one. We had a couple of meetings and I understand that the SAI psychologist will soon work with us on a trial basis.”

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