Manpreet: 'Expect the best from us'

Before leaving for Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, India captain Manpreet Singh says they are prepared for the big challenge.

For Manpreet what matters is the preparation.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Captain Manpreet Singh does not promise resurgence of Indian hockey but there is an air of assurance when he spells out the confidence that the team carries to the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s a big event and we are prepared. It’s a very important phase in our pursuit and I can tell fans of Indian hockey to expect the best from us,” he said on the eve of the team’s departure for Gold Coast.

For Manpreet what matters is the preparation. “It’s been hard and serious. Fitness has been the focus because it’s the main ingredient in modern hockey. We are not underestimating any opposition and know how important consistency is.”

A key resolve made by the team is not to make silly mistakes. “We have to cut down on earning card punishments. We have to avoid needless defensive structure and reduce conceding penalty corners as much as possible. It can be done. We should not do needless tackling inside the circle. Tackling should be outside the circle as much as possible.”

On area where the team has improved a lot, observed Manpreet, was penalty-corner conversion. “We have improved considerably in drag-flicking. It’s a work in process but, believe me, we have improved a lot. The best things is we are playing as a team and not depending on individual brilliance. It is no more about just participation. We play to win.”

With opponents like Australia, England, New Zealand and Malaysia to tackle, Manpreet hoped to raise the team’s game. “We are going there well ahead of the tournament to get acclimatised. Getting into the competitive mode is critical for the side. We have to avail the opportunities that come our way,” said Manpreet.