India’s drag-flicker Sandeep Singh has learned to attune himself to the exorbitant demands of a success-starved nation, still lazing in the resplendent history of the halcyonic yesteryears. Not just one of the most experienced campaigners in the Indian team, but also a match-winner of unflustered potential, the former captain took time off to speak to SS before leaving for Europe. Excerpts from an interview...
On the pressure of expectations
There is of course pressure on each one of us, but with experience you cope up with it better. Being a drag-flicker, people expect me to convert every time. I also hope to do us and put everything into the shot. Sometimes I find the target and sometimes I don’t. I’ll be happy if I can convert at least 90 percent of the chances.
On India’s realistic chances at the Games
We will take it match by match and not take any pressure on ourselves. There are a lot of young players in our squad but everyone is mature enough to not let the expectations get the better of them. The team has improved a lot in the recent times and there has been a great stress on fitness. This has helped us compete toe to toe with the top sides.
On the blue astro turf
It certainly looks bright and flashy. Initially we all found it tough to adjust, but having played a few times on the pitch we are now used to it and furthermore we are playing on the blue turf in France and Spain. So that should make us more familiar to it. But a fresh turf, irrespective of its colour, won’t be easy to play on for some time. From a drag-flicking perspective, it isn’t the easiest because there could be a bit of uneven bounce.
On his memories of the Athens Olympics
I was just 18 then and a bit raw. I was quite tense but a few minutes into my first match I felt confident. There were tight matches, in which our opponents scored late goals to win or draw the match. We conceded a late goal (69th) against Argentina as well. Hopefully, we will do much better.