Despite big wins, we cannot take France, South Africa lightly: Manpreet Singh
Potchefstroom : India hockey team captain Manpreet Singh said on Friday that despite his side defeating France and South Africa in the opening round matches of the FIH Pro League here, the boys cannot take the two teams lightly over the weekend matches as they are capable of springing surprises.Having begun their Pro League 2021/2022 campaign with back-to-back victories, India will vie to end their South African campaign on a winning note when they take on France and South Africa over the weekend.In the opening match, India beat France 5-0 with Harmanpreet Singh (21st min), Varun Kumar (24th), Shamsher Singh (28th), Mandeep Singh (32nd) and Akashdeep Singh (41st) on target.”It was good to start off the campaign with a win. Our first quarter was patchy but after the first quarter we played a rather composed game. We played to our structure and converted from the chances we created,” stated Manpreet talking about their first match against France, who are building their team towards the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Manpreet believes France are an unpredictable team and on a good day they can pull off a surprise. “It’s important we don’t take them lightly when we play against them on Saturday. We saw what France is capable of when they played against Netherlands. The match went into a shootout after 2-2 draw and eventually they lost in the shootout. Even when we played against them, they created good chances to score,” said the skipper.In India’s second match where they won 10-2, newcomer Jugraj Singh (4th, 6th, 23rd) scored a hat-trick of goals and Harmanpreet Singh (2nd), Abhishek (12th), Gursahibjit Singh (24th, 36th), Dilpreet Singh (25th, 58th), Mandeep Singh (27th) scoring in India’s win. Though it was a big win for India, Manpreet expressed that there were several aspects the team could have done better particularly in the second half.
Definitely the highlight of this match was both newcomers in the team Jugraj and Abhishek scoring goals and also creating opportunities. But when we watched the videos from this match, we definitely felt that as a team, we could have done better in the second half. There were lapses in the defence, which allowed South Africa to come back into the game and we didn’t carry on the same tempo with which we started the match,” Manpreet opined.”We will need to play consistently in all four quarters and that will focus on doing that in the upcoming two matches against France and South Africa. It will obviously be good if we can end the tour with winning points,” he added.India are currently placed third in the pool standings behind Netherlands and Belgium, respectively who have played four matches.On February 12, India will take on France and on February 13, they will play hosts South Africa.