Sunday, March 26, 2023

FIH Hockey World Cup 2023: Hopefully, we will end on prime, Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh

All set to play in his fourth FIH males’s hockey World Cup and the third on dwelling soil, veteran India goalkeeper P R Sreejesh feels his group can do higher than the quarterfinal exit within the final version, and even end on prime of the rostrum this time.

The showpiece begins right here on Friday.

India topped their pool after profitable two matches and drawing one, however misplaced to eventual runners-up Netherlands 2-1 within the quarterfinals of the 2018 version, which was performed at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, one of many two venues this time.

“It is a great honour for me to play my fourth World Cup for our country and the special part is, this is my third World Cup on home soil. I don’t think any player has had this privilege of playing three World Cups at home,” Sreejesh stated forward of India’s first Pool D match on Friday in opposition to Spain.

“In 2018, we couldn’t go into semis. Now, we have one more opportunity to change our fortunes at this mega event. Hopefully we can improve our previous performance and finish on top,” he stated.

India has not completed on the rostrum in 48 years since profitable the gold in 1975 version in Kuala Lumpur below the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh.

The 34-year-old skilled goalkeeper, the second most capped Indian participant within the group after Manpreet Singh, stated outcomes matter greater than the variety of occasions a participant turns up for a marquee occasion just like the World Cup.

“I’ve always felt it’s not about how many times you have played a tournament but whether you have won it or not is what matters the most. This time too, it’s important for me to give my 100 per cent and get the desired result from the tournament,” stated Sreejesh, who performed a significant function in India’s historic bronze-winning feat within the Tokyo Olympics.

Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh Raveendran tries to cease an try at aim as Pakistani gamers Rehan Butt and Mohammad Zubair look on throughout their World Cup 2010 match.
| Picture Credit score: MANAN VATSYAYANA

Sreejesh, who was named the FIH Goalkeeper of the 12 months, remembered his first outing on the World Cup when the top coach requested him to pad as much as guard India’s submit in opposition to nemesis Pakistan. This was throughout the New Delhi version in 2010.

“My first match in the World Cup was against Pakistan. I still remember, during the team meeting, our coach said that Pakistan will come fully prepared for goalkeeper Adrian (D’Souza) so he decided to put me in the match against them.

“When he asked me to pad up, the feeling of getting a chance was simply incredible,” recalled Sreejesh, feeling nostalgic.

“To play my first World Cup match in front of a packed home ground against Pakistan felt like a dream. I can still feel the atmosphere, how the stadium was, how people reacted and how we won that match. That was the best moment for me as a youngster.” He additionally recalled India’s outing within the following World Cup occasions.

“Every World Cup is special for a player but I distinctly remember the 2014 World Cup in Hague. We finished 9th unfortunately but we fought really well in that tournament. Personally, for me, I thought that was a great performance.”

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