FiH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: Injury to Mandeep at practice new worry for India

After deciding to replace injured Hardik Singh with Raj Kumar Pal, India had yet another problem on its hands as mercurial Mandeep Singh was injured during team’s practice, just less than 24 hours before the crucial crossover game against New Zealand in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at iconic Kalinga Stadium on Saturday evening.

“It was supposed to be a closed session,” said chief coach Graham Reid, maintaining that he did not get to see Mandeep as yet after the training session.Mandeep Singh was seen limping off the ground after a few minutes of practice. He probably injured or sprained his ankle.

India will have little or no choice than to play him, even if his injured ankle has to be strapped heavily as tomorrow’s game against New Zealand is crucial for the home team’s further progress in the tournament.

Both Graham Reid and team captain Harmanpreet Singh had interaction with the media after the training session. They agreed that pressure would be on India as New Zealand has nothing to lose. The chief coach was hopeful that Indian players would stand up to the pressure and give out their best against New Zealand as it was a good team.

“When you ask an Australian what he thinks about New Zealand, he will always say they are fighters and are tough. Australia and New Zealand have a long history. I have total respect for the way they play. We have the confidence that if we play well, do the right things, we are confident of doing the job, commented Graham Reid.

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Harmanpreet admitted that in earlier matches, including the last game against Wales,  “we should have scored, but credit must be given to the defence. In the coming matches, we will try to ensure we score. It’s been the same question for a few days but we should also watch the game of the players otherwise.

“We played them earlier, we scored a lot…we need to tighten our defence since then. Our defence is more set, playing a lot tighter. Still trying to work out who our best six were, we have done that now. We are now looking for a strong defensive performance tomorrow night.

“They have got nothing to lose, but all the pressure is on India, and that’s true. I also back my players to stand up under pressure and if we play well, nothing can stop us from winning. It has not changed from my point of view. When I first came to this tournament, I said we can beat any team and that’s still true,” quipped Graham Reid.

“If we play a normal game, as the coach said, we need to be strong defensively.It is going to be a good game,” said Harmanpreet Singh.

Prabhjot Singh

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