Sardar charged up to face Australia in hockey meet
New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Indian hockey team captain Sardar Singh on Monday said the team is looking forward to meeting world champions Australia in the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 5 to 12.
India had a fruitful 2014 when they won the the Asian Games gold after 16 years. The Sardar-led side also defeated the Netherlands after 18 years in the Champions Trophy and also overcame World No.4 Belgium. They gave a tough fight to Australia as well to finish a creditable fourth in the tournament.
Now, the team is gearing up under new chief coach Paul van Ass to take on Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Malaysia and Canada for the title in Ipoh.
“The team is motivated post the Champions Trophy 2014, where we beat the top teams that are ranked higher than us. While we stood fourth in the tournament, there were stronger teams that finished lower in the tournament,” Sardar said in a release.
“The upcoming tour will be tough but the boys are confident enough and we are looking forward to meeting Australia in the final.”
It will be the first assignment for Dutchman van Ass, who takes over the reins of the eight-time Olympic champions from Australian Terry Walsh.
Van Ass has recalled young strikers Mandeep Singh and Satbir Singh in the 18-member squad for the forthcoming event. Manipuri attacking midfielder Chinglensana Singh replaces Danish Mujtaba.
Sardar felt the team has received a big boost after the trio’s inclusion.
“With Satbir and Mandeep in the team, our attack gets a good boost and with Chinglensana in addition will help strengthen our midfield,” the centre-half said.
India will play their first match against south Korea on Saturday.