Marijne: ‘Sardar, Ramandeep dropped for varied reasons’

Marijne said that the Indian players need to be disciplined to win matches at the quadrennial event, to be held at Gold Coast from April 4 to 15.

Sardar Singh’s (right) exclusion was on expected lines as he performed below-par at 2018’s Azlan Shah Cup.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Veteran Sardar Singh and Ramandeep Singh were, on Tuesday, axed from Indian men’s hockey team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and head coach Sjoerd Marijne said that while the former lost out his place because of stiff competition, the latter was dropped because of inconsistent performances in recent past.

“Sardar was dropped from the Commonwealth Games team because of stiff competition for centre position and Ramandeep was omitted for his inconsistent performance. They, however, are good players,” Marijne said after the announcement of the squad here.

Sardar’s exclusion was on expected lines as he performed below-par at 2018’s Azlan Shah Cup. However, a few eyebrows were raised at Ramandeep’s exclusion, as he performed decently in the same tournament.

READ: CWG squad: Sardar dropped; Sreejesh recalled

While Manpreet Singh will don the captain’s armband, Chinglensana Singh will be his deputy. “The reins of deputy to Manpreet Singh has been given to Chinglensana. These players can play vertical and have the ability to score goals,” the coach said.

Admitting that world champion Australia would be the team to beat at the Gold Coast CWG, Marijne said that the Indian players need to be disciplined to win matches at the quadrennial event, to be held at Gold Coast from April 4 to 15.

The Indian team has been clubbed in Pool B along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales and England. India will begin its campaign against arch-rival Pakistan, on April 7.

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Marijne said that India needs to focus on the opening match against Pakistan, to set the momentum for the tournament. The Dutchman, however, expects to meet the reigning CWG champion and host Australia in the semifinals of the summit clash.

Asked about his expectations from skipper Manpreet, Marijne said that he will be a part of the leadership group, which also includes former captain and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh.

Sreejesh made a comeback to the side after recovering from a career-threatening Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury, which he suffered during the Azlan Shah Cup in 2017. His brilliant show during the New Zealand tour saw him get his rightful place back.

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Sreejesh will be backed by the 22-year-old talent Suraj Karkera, who played a crucial part in the teams good show in Bhubaneswar in 2017, in his senior counterpart’s absence.

Meanwhile, captain Manpreet said that it is important for India to perform as a unit in the CWG, to get desired results. Manpreet said that India’s main focus would be to pull off a victory against Pakistan in its opening match.

“We need to focus on our plan and maintain discipline. That is the main thing,” he said. Manpreet praised India’s performance in 2018’s Azlan Shah, despite the team finishing a disappointing fifth in the six-team event.

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“This is a very positive thing for us that the young team did well in Azlan Shah,” he said. Speaking about India’s new analytical coach Chris Ciriello, Manpreet said the Australian brings in a lot to the table.

“Most important thing is Chris’ mindset. He brings in the winning mentality from Australia. The Australians always look to win matches, which I like the most. We are learning many things from him,” he said.