One of the youngest to lead the men's hockey team, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was under pressure to hold his own in a squad that had several senior players. The 23-year-old did well in the test series against Argentina and is optimistic of another good show in the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup, starting here on Saturday.
Excerpts from an interview:
What are your priorities as captain?
The focus will be to take the team along as a single unit. The squad is a mixture of youth and experience and I want to utilise the experience of the seniors and enthusiasm of the juniors.
Has captaincy put extra pressure on you?
There is no pressure. The team is united and everyone knows his duty. My priority is to perform the job for which I am in the squad.
What will be your focus as a player?
It will be to convert penalty corners and concentrate on defence.
How do you rate the performance in Argentina?
Being 2-0 up, we should have won the series. But unfortunately, we drew 2-2. It was a learning experience and we will try to work on the short corners for this tournament.
Your remarks that we don't need a foreign coach created a controversy.
My quotes were twisted and used out of context. What I had said was that Indian coaches were working hard with us and a foreign coach would take time to adjust. Moreover, it is not my prerogative to decide who will coach.
Your views on the Gold Cup.
It's a good platform from where we can again popularise hockey in the country and generate confidence amongst fans that we are as good as any other team in the world. We didn't have the Premier Hockey League this season, so this tournament will make up for it.