New Delhi: Defender Harmanpreet Singh on Wednesday expressed his happiness on being appointed captain of the national hockey for the Olympic test event in Japan saying hthat he was thrilled to lead the Indian side for the first time.
India will take on Malaysia, New Zealand and hosts Japan in the tournament starting 17 August .and the 23-year old drag flicker feels he is ready for the new challenge. “When I was told that I would be leading the team, it was a pleasant surprise. It is an honour and big responsibility. I am excited and looking forward to the challenge,”
Harmanpreet was part of the India Colts team that won the FIH Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016. He was one of the youngest in the Indian unit that played at the Rio Olympic Games, a place he secured after a memorable outing in the Champions Trophy in London only months before the quadrennial sporting extravaganza.
The Indian team won a historic Silver Medal at the Champions Trophy, and Harmanpreet was then adjudged the Rising Player of the Tournament. He has since stepped up as a player and has often come up with versatile performances in key International tournaments.
“When I look back, I feel fortunate to have come into the Indian team at a time when there were stalwart players from whom I could learn a lot. Players like Sardar Singh and VR Raghunath had a positive impact on my nascent days in the Senior team and their guidance helped me soak up the pressures of International hockey,” he said .
Speaking of the task ahead, the skipper said the team will be leaving for Japan with an intent to win the tournament. “Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand are good teams to play against and see where we stand as a unit ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers. Malaysia recently beat Germany in a match and Japan too are doing well while New Zealand is coming into the event with good exposure from the FIH Pro League. In the absence of senior players who are rested, it is important we step-up our game. We are well-prepared, having attended a special Goalkeepers Camp and Defenders Camp. We will be playing every match with the intent to win,” he stated.