Indian Hockey team-led by PR Sreejesh will kick-start their campaign in Asian Games 2018 on Friday against Hong Kong. In the Asian Games, India is the top-ranked team and they are also the defending champions.
Ahead of Team India’s departure for Jakarta, The Statesman caught up with Sreejesh and when we asked him about India’s preparations for the prestigious trophy, there was a sly smile on Indian captain’s face as he said, “The preparations are done and now we are just ready for playing and giving our best on the ground.”
Riding on their brilliant performance in the elite Champions Trophy in the Netherlands, where they finished as runners-up, Team India jumped one place to secure the fifth spot in the world rankings. And if PR Sreejesh’s squad defends the crown, they will secure an early qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
When asked on defending the title, the 30-year-old goal-keeper said, “his squad is ‘favourites’ in Asian Games and their aim will be to ‘win the gold medal’ to ‘qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’.”
Speaking about their experience in the recently concluded Champions Trophy, Sreejesh said, “The team has done well and they are very confident with their performance and now their only focus is the Asian Games.”
On facing arch-rivals Pakistan, PR Sreejesh said, “On the field for us Pakistan is just another team. And our focus is always to win the game to add another point. All the pressure comes from outsources but we always try to be in the game zone to avoid it.”
We also asked Sreejesh the million dollar question, “how to promote Hockey in a cricket crazy nation?” In reply, Sreejesh said, “This is a very good question. But to promote Hockey in India, we need to introduce it in our schools and we also need to give children more opportunity to play.” Sreejesh also said that there was need to “broadcast more hockey matches live on television”.