Ace midfielder Manpreet Singh feels India are no more “underdogs” in world hockey and said they are ready to take on top sides in the upcoming Champions Trophy, starting June 10 in London.
“We have beaten teams like Holland twice in the past two years. We defeated them in Champions Trophy 2014 and then in the World Hockey League Final. Likewise we have beaten Germany and also Australia (in Test Series). We don’t feel scared to take on big teams anymore. We don’t think ourselves as underdogs anymore. In fact, we will go with the confidence that we are as good as any other team if not better,” said Manpreet.
India will face Germany in their opening match on June 10 and Manpreet believes the tournament will provide them the platform to finetune their game further in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics.
“We will find out where we need further improvement to our game. We can access each of our abilities to perform under pressure because each of these matches will be high intensity. Also if we make mistakes here, we will have some time to correct them before the Olympics,” he said.
Manpreet idolises Germany captain Moritz Fürste and said the chance to play alongside the German during the Hockey India League has helped him improve his game.
“For youngsters like me HIL gave us the platform to interact with top players on and off the field. During HIL I got to learn from players like Moritz Fürste and Barry Middleton (England) on how to play under pressure situations, how to play a back drive while playing defence and also how to control the game when you are in the lead. I believe these things has helped me mature as a player,” he said.
Speaking about Manpreet, India’s chief coach Roelant Oltmans said the midfielder has brought value to his scheme of things.
“Manpreet brings attitude, leadership and he brings the mentality of a winner. I think these qualities for a young player like him are very important. He is a winner and we need winners like him in the team. I have seen him evolve as a mature player in these past few years,” Oltmans said.