Sardar Singh, former captain of the Indian men’s hockey team, is confident that the Manpreet Singh-led can end the medal drought and make a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
India last won a gold in Hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish.
“Having played 314 international matches, I will always regret not being able to add an Olympic medal on the wall back home,” Sardar was quoted as saying by Hockey India.
“But watching this team grow from strength to strength in the past year and the way they played the FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this year, I have great hope that they can bag that elusive Olympic medal. They definitely have a realistic chance in Tokyo.
“Playing the Olympic Games for India should be the single most motivating factor for each and every athlete and they must channel their efforts to be the best they can be ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games,” he added.
The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be played this year but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been postponed till summer of 2021.
The former Indian captain believes that with the Olympics being postponed by an year, the team has got extra time to work on their short-comings.
“The next one year will be extremely critical for this team. They have the time to build on the new talent that is available. Some of the youngsters like Rajkumar, Dilpreet, Vivek Sagar, Gursahib have shown great promise and trying them in big-match scenarios like the Pro League was a good decision by Chief Coach Graham Reid,” said Sardar.
“With the Olympics being postponed, we have the time to work on our short-comings. Converting chances continues to be one of the grey areas but I feel we have been finishing much better than we were two or three years ago.”
The Indian team had made an emphatic start to their maiden Hockey Pro League campaign earlier this year with a 5-2 and 3-3 (3-1) win against the Netherlands, followed by a 2-1 win and 3-4 loss against World Champions Belgium and 3-4 loss and 2-2 (3-1) win against Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the competition.
They will now resume their campaign in the 2020 season when they play Argentina on April 10 and 11 next year in the revamped schedule. They will then face Great Britain away from home on May 8 and 9 before travelling to Spain to play matches on May 12 and 13. The team will take on Germany in away matches on May 18 and 19 before finally playing a home tie on May 29 and 30 against New Zealand.
“Good matches in the Pro League next year against Argentina, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and New Zealand should set the ball rolling for us and this will definitely be a good litmus test before the Olympic campaign begins,” said the 34-year-old.