Ipoh [Malaysia]: Having arrived in Ipoh, Malaysia a week before the start of the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the Indian Hockey team has had enough time to get used to the humid conditions and are geared up for a good start at the tournament, asserts captain P.R Sreejesh.
“The team is doing well. We have trained every single day after arriving here and I feel we have had a good five-six days to acclimatize to the conditions here,” said the goalkeeper-captain on Friday.
The Indian team will take on Great Britain in their first match on April 29. India last played them at the 36th Champions Trophy in London last year where India beat Great Britain 2-1.
“But it’s a new team this year with a lot of youngsters. I think only about three or four members in their squad are senior players. But knowing the mental strength of the team, I know they will play with a lot of energy. First match is always a game turner and we definitely want to start on a great note and the mood in our dressing room is very upbeat right now,” said the 28-year-old Padma Shri awardee, who seemed calm and relaxed ahead of their opening tie.
The reason for Sreejesh’s optimism also stems from the 2-0 win they tasted against Japan in their practice match on April 26. It was young forward Mandeep Singh who scored both the goals for India and according to chief coach Roelant Oltmans, the team’s defence was ‘outstanding’ in the match.
“It was good to win the practice game as it was the first time before the start of the tournament, we were playing against a different team as opposed to playing matches against our own team mates during practice sessions,” he said.
“It is good to get that winning momentum ahead of the start of the tournament and we will further discuss on our strong points and low points in the team meeting today (Friday). Our immediate focus is to play well against Great Britain on Saturday,” concluded the skipper. (ANI)