Rio Olympics 2016: Indian hockey forward Ramandeep Singh feels team needs to improve their decision-making inside opposition 'D'
Ramandeep Singh is one of the key elements of the Indian forward line – inconsistency, however, has been his bane like many other Indian forwards. The 23-year-old striker, who made a comeback in the Six Nation Invitational Event in Valencia, Spain after being rested for the 2016 Champions Trophy, is determined to put more hard work into his game in the upcoming two-week Olympic preparatory camp in Bengaluru. Ramandeep, who is employed with Punjab & Sind Bank, spoke about his game and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q After the ‘highs’ of their first-ever runners-up at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London, India came off with a less inspiring performance in the Six Nation Invitational Event in Valencia, Spain. How would you assess your team’s performance in the Spain tournament?
I think it was a big learning curve for all of us – some of us were returning to the side after being rested for the 2016 Champions Trophy. We lost our first game but came back well against Ireland in the next match as well as in our matches against Argentina and Spain. Overall, I feel the Spanish exposure will serve us well for the Rio Olympics.
Q India drew Germany 3-3 after leading 3-1 at one stage at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London, but they lost to them rather tamely 0-4. What went wrong in that match?
I think the Germans seized the initiative early and it was not as if we did not have our chances. I did not make the most of the chances that came our way or else the outcome could have different.
Q The Six Nation Invitational Event in Valencia, Spain was a bit of a comeback for you after you were rested for the 2016 Champions Trophy. You enjoyed scoring in India’s 3-3 draw against Argentina.
It always feels good to score but the team winning is more important than that. We really fought hard against Argentina – the way we rallied is praiseworthy. Argentina is one side we have not beaten for a long time and I thought we put up a determined performance against them.
Q Indian defence have been often flayed for being shoddy but it has really turned over a new leaf in recent months, especially at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London. Your thoughts.
Our team have put in a lot of effort under our coaches. The results are there for all to see. There is a lot of confidence among our defenders and that is really helping us.
Q Indian forward line is seen as a concern area – what’s your take?
I think we will work on it in our two-week camp before the Olympics. We need to be patient inside the ‘D’ and not rush with our final pass. There is also a need to improve our decision-making once we are inside the opposition striking circle.
Q You missed the 2014 World Cup after suffering an injury in a practice game on their arrival in The Hague. How important is it to stay injury-free ahead of a big event like the Olympics?
I still remember I had suffered eye and cheekbone injuries and had to return home. I did make a comeback for the Commonwealth Games two or three weeks later and scored four goals in that event. Injuries are not in your control, at best you can hope for the best.
Q How would you look at India’s prospects at the Rio Olympics?
We will look to take it match by match – our team is rapidly improving and we have a world ranking of five due to our solid performances in the last couple of years. Keeping fingers crossed.