A team man to the core, Manpreet Singh has no qualms about losing captaincy and feels returning veteran Sardar Singh’s presence in the middle will act as motivation for other players in the upcoming FIH Champions Trophy in Breda, Netherlands.
Sardar, considered one of the world’s best midfielders at one point of time, was dropped for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where India finished a disappointing fourth under Manpreet’s captaincy.
But the seasoned Sardar did not give up hope and fought his way back into the team for the Champions Trophy after impressing new chief coach Harendra Singh in the national camp.
“Sardar is an immensely experienced midfielder. His presence in the midfield will give a lot of motivation to others. He has the ability to give long, skilful passes,” Manpreet told PTI before leaving for the Champions Trophy.
Sardar has been brought back to bolster the team’s midfield for the tournament, beginning June 23.
Asked about India’s chances in the prestigious event, where they stood second best in the last edition, Manpreet said the team is aiming for a podium finish.
But he knows it is not going to be an easy task, considering the competitiveness of all the 16 participating nations.
Manpreet was the captain of the Indian team in the Gold Coast Games, where things didn’t go according to plans for the erstwhile powerhouse of the game.
“Commonwealth Games was not good for us. We missed far too many goals. Also, we converted far too less penalty corners. We have worked very hard on scoring goals and converting penalty corners during the training sessions here at Sports Authority of India,” he said.
After the CWG failure, Manpreet was replaced by PR Sreejesh as the skipper for the last edition of the Champions Trophy.
But the stylish midfielder doesn’t have any qualms on losing out captaincy, saying he is still learning the tricks of the trade.
“No, I do not have any regrets losing captaincy. When I was a captain I used to stick to the team’s game plan. I will do the same as a player too. Sreejesh was captain earlier and is an experienced player. I have lot to learn from him about captaincy,” he said.
India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in the opening match of the tournament, but Manpreet said it is just another game for the side.