Star India males’s hockey crew goalkeeper PR Sreejesh has achieved virtually every part in his 17-year-long illustrious profession, aside from a World Cup medal and he needs to fulfil his “dream” this time in the ongoing showpiece at home.
The 34-year-old Sreejesh had played a major role in India’s historic bronze win in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the team is hoping to finish on the podium in the ongoing World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela after a hiatus 48 years.
India had won their maiden World Cup medal, a gold, in the 1975 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
“That (World Cup medal) is the only medal which is missing in my cabinet. The Indian team is working hard to finish on the podium and that is my dream,” Sreejesh instructed PTI.
“If we try this, I also can say that I’ve a medal from the Olympics in addition to from the World Cup.”
Sreejesh, who has played 226 senior international matches since making his debut in 2006, has won medals in all prestigious tournaments, except for World Cup.
He was part of the gold and bronze-winning Asian Games teams in 2014 and 2018, the Commonwealth Games silver-winning teams in 2014 and 2022, Champions Trophy silver-clinching teams in 2016 and 2018. He won gold in Asian Champions Trophy in 2011, 2016 and 2018. He is also a three-time Olympian and is currently playing in his fourth World Cup.
Some of the members of the Tokyo Olympics bronze-winning team like Birendra Lakra and Rupinder Pal Singh have retired since then.
Talking about them, Sreejesh said, “Every Olympic cycle, coaches try to change a lot of players because they (coaches) plan for the next four years. That is going to be more important, so that is why there has been a lot of changes in our team as well.
“A lot of youngsters have replaced senior players. So, they will get a lot of experience and be ready to give their best for the country at the end of this (Olympic) cycle,” mentioned the shot-stopper from Kerala.
Sreejesh agreed with present Indian crew goalkeeping coach Dennis van de Pol, who had mentioned that younger Krishan Pathak has matured sufficient and is prepared to exchange the veteran custodian when he decides to name time on his wonderful profession.
“Pathak has been with the nationwide crew since 2016 when he performed the Junior World Cup and he joined the senior crew in 2017. He was with me for the 2018 World Cup and 2018 Asian Games. He has obtained sufficient expertise to play for the crew now.
“Definitely, when you’re the senior-most, you want to look again and take into consideration who can exchange you and who can play higher for the nation as a result of being in the Indian hockey crew isn’t a everlasting job for anyone,” he mentioned.
“Some day you need to step out and someone will take your place and I think with experience and the way he is playing he (Pathak) is ready to perform for the country.”
Sreejesh felt completely satisfied that the world physique, FIH, is anxious about the security of gamers and was considering of giving extra response time to penalty nook defenders however doesn’t not see any purpose to change guidelines on this regard.
The FIH is doing a research on tweaking penalty nook hit guidelines to present extra security to defending gamers as the high-speed ball travels in a crowded space.
Asked about this, Sreejesh mentioned, “In any sport, the security of gamers comes first. I’m completely satisfied that the FIH is anxious about the security of the gamers. But the factor is that we should always not change something in penalty corners as a result of the PC is one in every of the most lovely issues in hockey and it offers pleasure to the recreation.
“Definitely, the approach out may very well be higher high quality of kit and higher use of them can stop accidents.”
The current Indian team has done very well in defending penalty corners as it has not conceded a goal from set pieces in the two matches it has played so far in this World Cup.
But Sreejesh refused to compare players of different generations and said the current lot is the best in this aspect of the game.
“Every generation has its best PC defenders and you saw our current players doing really well in defending PCs. So, when the system or the technology improves, that helps in how to defend penalty corners. With experience also, we can defend penalty corners,” he mentioned.
“In the match towards England, Manpreet Singh was the first rusher and he’s not a teen. Amit Rohidas can also be an excellent first rusher. But you can’t evaluate gamers of various generations, be it PC takers or PC defenders.”
He said in hockey, just as scoring from penalty corners is important, defending set pieces is also equally crucial.
“Every team spends a lot of time on how to defend penalty corners. The result is that we are doing very well in PC defence.
“Penalty corner takers are also very good, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas. So it is an inspiration for the PC defenders to also do well. Coach Graham Reid is working hard on PC defending and technically when we are watching opponent teams, we know who is their best drag-flicker and we try to send out our best defenders,” Sreejesh concluded.
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