Sandeep’s magic flick saves the day | india | Hindustan Times
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Sandeep’s magic flick saves the day

He was called a rebel, and even suspended from the national camp. That was eight months ago. Today, Sandeep Singh is the team's saviour in the Olympic Qualifiers.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2012 02:32 IST
Navneet Singh

He was called a rebel, and even suspended from the national camp. That was eight months ago. Today, Sandeep Singh is the team's saviour in the Olympic Qualifiers.

Sandeep had contributed two of the three goals India scored to beat Canada 3-2 and remain atop the table. Against Poland on Friday, India were down by a goal in the first half when he levelled the score with a scorching drag flick.

Talking of his transformation, the drag-flicker from Haryana gives a naughty smile. “It was just that things went out of control,” he said of the past.

Sitting out of the camp meant that he also ignored his diet. The extra flab slowed him down and chief coach, Michael Nobbs, made him work hard.

During the build up, while other team-members took a day off, Sandeep was often seen sweating it out alone.

The hard work has paid off. He is more agile, and has manned the defence well in almost all the matches. “We had to make him match fit, and he responded to the training,” said Nobbs.

Last-gasp goal

With a few seconds left, Sandeep's drag flick sealed Poland's fate as India won 4-2 at the National Stadium. “The victory is sweet,” said Sandeep. Before the start of the match, he had promised to score 12 goals in the tournament. He is one short of the target. “You will see more goals in the final,” he said.

Poland lost their last league match, but they exposed chinks in India's armour. But Nobbs said his boys were prepared for the final. “We made 26 attacks and kept the ball moving till the end,” he said.

India will play the final against France on Sunday.