Harbinder Singh was excited at the national men’s hockey team entering the semifinal stage at the Tokyo Olympic Games. He was himself a member of the Indian hockey team that won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games,
The erstwhile hockey star believes India has good chances of repeating history when they take on Belgium in the next round.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Harbinder Singh said:
“It is a good day for us as Manpreet Singh has guided his team to an exciting 3-1 win over Great Britain on Sunday. If the boys continue to sustain their pace in the semifinals against Belgium, we have bright chances of repeating history in Tokyo."
The national men’s hockey team last won a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, India lost in the quarterfinals.
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Harbinder, who represented Indian men’s hockey team at three Olympic editions from 1964 to 1972, said the scope of error is marginal during knockout stages.
“Our boys played well in the knockout stage against Great Britain. The Indian team committed fewer mistakes. Since the Indian team scored two field goals, it shows that the Manpreet-led team has warmed up to click inside the circle,” added Harbinder.
The veteran international hockey player said Indian team coordination frustrated Great Britain’s game plans in the quarterfinals on Sunday. The Great Britain team were error prone and couldn’t make a comeback in the match despite earning several penalty corners. Harbinder Singh said:
“In a crucial match if the team squanders over half-a-dozen penalty corners, it points to wilting under pressure."
Harbinder Singh reserved special praise for PR Sreejesh
Harbinder also applauded P Sreejesh’s efforts under the bar, saying his commendable performance in the quarterfinal match against Great Britain can’t be ignored.
“Sreejesh was solid under the bar. He was sharp and quick to respond to challenging situations in the thrilling competition. Sreejesh has been instrumental in making good saves under the bar in the competition in the preliminary rounds as well. We hope he is able to continue to excel under the bar in the remaining matches for India,” said the Arjuna Awardee (in hockey).
Harbinder recalls that at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, India scored a solitary goal to win over arch rival Pakistan to secure the title. The current crop of players can script a new chapter in the history of Indian hockey by winning a medal in Tokyo.
“The players have to remain calm throughout the match. As there is no scope of error in high voltage matches,” added Harbinder.