India's hockey captain Manpreet Singh is confident of his side performing exceedingly well at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ranked fourth in the world, India are placed in Group A, along with Australia (World No. 2), defending champions Argentina (No. 7), New Zealand (No. 8), Spain (No. 9) and Japan (No. 15).
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda’s Indranil Basu, Manpreet said the team has trained well at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Bengaluru and is prepared to put its best foot forward at the Olympics.
“We know what we, as a team, can expect from the Olympic Games. The secret to approaching a tournament of this magnitude is to stay focused and take things step by step. We know the kind of expectations we carry and are ready for the Games.”
Manpreet Singh banks on experience
The team is not short on experience. Players like Manpreet Singh, Rupinderpal Singh and PR Sreejesh were also part of the Indian set-up during their disastrous campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The skipper said the team has come a long way since.
“This is my third Olympics. We have seniors who have played multiple Olympics and we share our experiences with all the juniors of the team. It is all about a never-give-up attitude and if we have that, that’s where we lose it."
The 28-year-old said the team took to heart the lessons learnt in 2016 and are better for it.
“We have worked a lot on our fitness. We also knew where we went wrong in 2016 – leaking goals in the last minute, like how we did against Germany. We have plugged those gaps. We now know that both an aggressive attack and a strong defensive line can help us win matches. We are prepared to not let our guard down till the final whistle.”
Manpreet is glad the tour of Argentina put the spotlight on India's attacking brand of hockey.
“We have had a decent outing, especially against Argentina. It was stellar to come back on level terms after being 1-2 down to equalize in the last 25 seconds through a penalty corner."
Manpreet Singh realizes India cannot afford to take any team lightly at the Games.
“We have learned not to underestimate anyone or any team. In 2016, we had a draw against Canada and we suffered a lot. All teams give their best in the Olympics and we know we have to be on top of our game always and give 100% in every game."
India open their Tokyo Olympics campaign against New Zealand on July 24.