The Indian men’s hockey team coach along with Manpreet Singh spoke to the media after the squad for the FIH Pro League was announced.

The Indian men’s hockey team are geared up to start their campaign at the FIH Pro League 2021-22. India will play their first match in Potchefstroom, South Africa against France on February 8th. The Indian team have already announced their squad ahead of the fixtures. As many as 14 players from India’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics bronze medal-winning squad have been selected for the matches in South Africa.

Ahead of their departure to South Africa from Bengaluru on February 4th, head coach Graham Reid and captain Manpreet Singh spoke to the media. Here are the excerpts.

On return of PR Sreejesh into squad

Dependable Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will be making a return to the squad. The 33-year-old was rested for last month’s Asian Champions Trophy. When asked about his return, Indian coach Graham Reid said, “Well, he’s back in again. He had a long break from international sport. But, you don’t get to play for your country as long as he has without being open to new ideas, development and continual improvement. He has the same drive and commitment like a 19-year-old.”

Graham Reid also spoke about Sreejesh’s dedication to the team and added, “Players like him are constantly wanting to get better and that’s what he brings to the group. While he can still play like what he does, that will be great for us.”

On Harmanpreet’s good run of form

Indian defender Harmanpreet Singh has been in a good run of form lately. His performances at the Tokyo Olympics and Asian Champions Trophy would attest to that. “Harman has a lot of experience playing for the team. He is one of the best drag-flickers we have. Harman leads the defence and also motivates the young players. We always hope that he scores whenever a penalty-corner situation arises,” Graham Reid said.

Speaking on Harman’s composure before the match, Manpreet Singh said, “Harmanpreet is always calm before the match. He listens to songs and even jokes around with his teammates, so that he can clear his mind and come out fresh for the matches.”

On year ahead

Manpreet Singh also chose to emphasize on how this year is important for the Indian hockey team. He said, “We are hopeful about this year. We are getting good matches against sides like France and South Africa, which will really help, especially the youngsters who have come in new to the squad. So, we want to start this year in a dominant fashion with victories. The players are also giving their 100%. So, I think this tour to South Africa will be very important for us.”

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