Sandeep: ‘Focus should be on Olympics, not Asian Games or CWG’

"I believe rather than paying too much attention to the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, we should focus on the Olympics. The young generation, which has won the Junior World Cup, is really doing well. We should groom them for the 2020 Olympics," Sandeep said.

Former India captain Sandeep Singh is presently working as a consultant with Tata Trusts to promote grassroots hockey in Jharkhand.   -  Manob Chowdhury

 

Sandeep Singh may have taken a break from playing competitive hockey, but the two-time Olympian has been keeping an eye on the progress of the Indian team and feels that members of the Junior World Cup winning squad should be groomed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sandeep, who is presently working as a consultant with Tata Trusts to promote grassroots hockey in Jharkhand, said India should give more exposure to the younger lot. “I believe rather than paying too much attention to the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, we should focus on the Olympics. The young generation, which has won the Junior World Cup, is really doing well. We should groom them for the 2020 Olympics,” said Sandeep during an interaction here on Saturday.

Sandeep said a player like midfielder Harjeet Singh, the Junior World Cup-winning team captain, deserved more exposure. “Harjeet should follow in the footsteps of Manpreet (Singh), who has improved a lot over the years. If Harjeet gives a good chase to Manpreet, then a healthy competition between the two will bring out the best in both of them. Harjeet needs to gather more experience at the top level.

“The European countries and Australia field their development sides in different tournaments and prepare them for bigger events. That's why they send their strongest squads to the Olympics and World Cup.”

A well-known drag-flicker, Sandeep said the current crop of penalty corner specialists needed to improve their conversion rate. “I have seen all the Hockey India League (HIL) matches this year... They don't read the goalkeepers well. We have got so many drag-flickers. But if we don't have two top flickers, then there is no use. There is no point carrying the burden of so many drag-flickers.

“If you take into account the conversion rate of four current drag-flickers, then it is less than 15 per cent. In the HIL, it is less than seven per cent. Drag-flickers have scored three or four times out of 30 to 35 attempts.

“My maximum was 75 per cent and minimum was 35 per cent. Even in the (2012) Olympics, which I rate as one of my ordinary performances, I achieved 35 per cent of scoring rate – I had score twice out of five chances,” claimed the 31-year-old.

Sandeep took a jibe at fellow flickers while lending a piece of advice to them. “The main job is to read the goalkeeper and how the defenders rush out. I am not against anyone, I am just saying that they should focus more on drag-flicking than spending time on social media sites,” said Sandeep.