Even a small query about India’s performance at the FIH World Cup brings a different reaction on captain Rajpal Singh’s face.
He doesn’t want to discuss it anymore. What he wants now is a medal-winning performance from his boys at the Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t want to remember anything about the World Cup. Only a medal-winning performance here can help us forget those bad memories,” Rajpal told HT in a sentimental tone during a post-lunch meeting at the Games Village on Wednesday.
“CWG is a big occasion for us and I have already told my boys not to miss this opportunity,” he said, adding, “A superb show here would help India go to next month’s Asian Games confidently.
“Our plan is to make up for the dismal performance at the World Cup. The boys are doing well and, in my opinion, we are better prepared now,” said Rajpal, who would be spearheading India’s challenge at the Dhyan Chand Stadium, where the hosts had finished ninth at the FIH World Cup in February-March this year.
He said the fitness level of players was perfect and they were raring to go. “In our first two practice matches against England, the boys were in perfect rhythm and victories in both encounters have boosted our moral.”
Without doubt, the Indian hockey players would be looking for their first medal at the CWG since the discipline became a part of the Games in 1998. “We have worked on specific shortcomings, and I find our preparations are right on track. We have the potential to earn a medal at the CWG, which has been eluding us for so many years.”
India are placed in a tough group that includes World champions Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia, who finished in that order at the 2006 Melbourne Games.
“We have the home advantage and we aren’t worried about being in the tougher of the two groups. We have to focus on our strengths. In fact, we are on a revenge mission this time,” Rajpal said with a confident smile.