Indian hockey team captain Sardar Singh has predicted bright future for the young trio of Harmanpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh and Surender Singh after their impressive show in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia, where the team finished with silver medal.
India had sent a team with a blend of youth and experience in the recently-concluded Azlan Shah Cup, to check out the bench strength ahead of the Rio Olympics.
“This was a good experience for youngsters, who were playing in the senior team for the first time. In particular, Harmanpreet, Surender and Harjeet showed that they are capable of playing at the higher level and fit into the team perfectly,” Sardar said after the team returned home.
Coach Roelant Oltmans added, “It was a good preparation for Rio. We have identified some of our weaknesses, which a tournament like this highlights, and can now work on them extensively to make sure we can have a strong showing at the Olympics.”
This year’s performance was Indian team’s best since 2010, when they won the gold at the tournament.
India managed to beat Japan, Canada, Pakistan and Malaysia but lost the final match to Australia to end as tournament runners-up. India also lost to New Zealand during the competition.
Fielding an experimental team, which featured a lot of young and inexperienced faces, they scored 18 goals in the tournament, the second most by any side.
However, the team lost to both the sides that will feature in the Olympics and won only against those that have not qualified for the quadrennial extravaganza.