Harendra Singh: 'Always difficult to fill the vacuum created by a player like Sardar'

Sardar Singh, who donned the National colours for more than a decade, may have left a vacuum in the team, but the National side is determined to tackle the situation.

Harendra Singh said that the team must maintain the intensity throughout a match. (File Photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

Even though the Indian hockey team is missing Sardar Singh following his retirement, it is also trying to fill the void and move ahead for important assignments such as the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat in October and the World Cup, here, on November.

The iconic midfielder, who donned the National colours for more than a decade, may have left a vacuum in the team, but the National side is determined to tackle the situation.

“A player like Manpreet, Kothajit or some senior player has to step in and take his (Sardar's) responsibility. It's always difficult to fill the vacuum created by a player like Sardar. We are having these camps so that everyone is mentally and physically prepared to play at every position."

"But, I don't think comparing Sardar with other players is wise,” said National coach Harendra Singh on the sidelines of the ongoing National camp, here, on Wednesday.

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Ace goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh agreed. “We have to think about other options in the absence of Sardar. We have got some players who can play at his position.”

Seasoned forward S.V. Sunil said that the team would miss Sardar. “We miss him a lot. He has played for the country for 12-13 years. We are like brothers. We spend more time in the camp than at home. We recently met in Delhi. He told me and Sreejesh that it is our duty to take the team forward. Everyone cannot play forever,” said Sunil.

The team, however, is looking forward to making the best use of the Asian Champions Trophy. “We have to field the best combinations in the World Cup and for that, we have to try out new combinations and new tactics. Let's see how things work out in the Asian Champions Trophy,” said Harendra.

The coach said that the team must maintain the intensity throughout a match. “I think players have understood how important is every minute. A hockey match is from first to the 60th minute. Every minute counts in the game. We have a formidable defence and we are not losing the ball. The area where we need to work is opponent circle, not own circle,” he said.

Squad

Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Hardik Singh

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (C), Sumit Nilakanta Sharma, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC)

Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh.