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Interview with PR Sreejesh: "Nice feeling to be captain"

The 26-year-old Kerala lad, who works with the Kerala Government, talks about his game and much more in an exclusive interview.

pr sreejesh
Sreejesh said his primary job is to play for the country

The 2016 Champions Trophy in London will be goalkeeper PR Sreejesh’s maiden stint as Indian captain. The 26-year-old Kerala lad, who works with the Kerala Government, talks about his game and much more in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts:

Q. How does it feel to named captain of the Indian senior men’s hockey team?

It is a nice feeling to be named of the captain of the Indian team. Otherwise everything is normal for me as I’m the same player as I was before. I know the boys inside out and will look to strive hard to do well in the Champions Trophy. The boys are in good spirits and working really hard at the ongoing camp.

Q. You are a stop-gap captain for the Champions Trophy as regular skipper Sardar Singh is rested. Have you thought about taking over the mantle of captaincy over the long-term?

It is the job of the coaches and the federation/association to decide on whom to appoint. I have never thought about all these things as my primary job is to play for the country and help India win matches with my goalkeeping skills.

Q. How do you assess India’s chances at the 2016 Rio Olympics?

I think we need to be realistic about our chances in Rio. The Rio Olympics has the quarterfinals stage where four top teams from each pool make the cut. Our first priority will be to reach the quarterfinals and take it from there.

Q. India have shown that they play well in the knockout stage – India beat Belgium in the quarterfinal to reach the semifinals of the 2012 Champions Trophy in Melbourne and again beat Great Britain at Raipur in the last eight stage of the Hockey World League Final Round. Your thoughts.

I totally agree with you – India have done well in the knockout phase in recent years and if we can enter the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics you never know what can happen. Look at Great Britain- they beat all teams in the league phase of the Hockey World League Final Round only to lose to us in the quarterfinals.

Q. Most top teams struggle to beat world champions Australia- India seems to have an answer beating them on four occasions.

Australia play hard-press hockey and India are good at counter-attacking – Australia don’t have great skills when it comes to individual tackling while India have so much skills in these areas.

Q. As a goalkeeper what are the areas you need to work on ahead of the Olympics?

I need to work in many areas – improvement is a continuous process – be it tackling penalty corners or solo attempts I need to work a lot on these areas.

Q. Do you think a good goalkeeper can hide a poor defence or is it is a case of good defence shielding a good goalkeeper?

I will put it this way – even if our defenders are really good it will matter little if I concede a goal – similarly if our defenders are sloppy I leak a goal the team anyway suffers. The ultimate responsibility is on me to defend my goal and not the defenders.
Q. Did you use the small break to spend time with your little daughter?

I was in Kerala for a few days and I cherished every moment of spending time with my family, especially my little daughter.

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