There is no junior-senior thing: Sandeep Singh

Newly appointed men's hockey team captain, Sandeep Singh said India will look to win the test series against Argentina to get into the winning momentum.

updated: January 10, 2009 17:19 IST
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Newly appointed men's hockey team captain, Sandeep Singh on Saturday said India will look to win the test series against Argentina to get into the winning momentum for four-nation Punjab Gold Cup.

India plays a four match test series against Argentina to be played at Mar Del Plata on January 18, 19, 21 and 22, while the Punjab Gold Cup starts here from January 31.

"Getting into winning groove is important and we will like to start this from the Argentina series and follow it up with the four-nation tournament. This will help us in future as our focus will be to win the major tournaments ahead that includes next year's World Cup and the Commonwealth Games," Sandeep said.

The drag-flicker was on Friday named captain of the 22-member squad that will play against Argentina and the Punjab Gold Cup, featuring Germany, New Zealand and Netherlands besides India.

The mentally-tough Sandeep has come a long way in his career after receiving a severe jolt in August 2006 when he received a bullet injury in his back in an accidental fire while travelling in a train. The incident eventually kept him out of action for sometime.

"When I was in the hospital, the doctor told me that I would not be able to play hockey again. These words left me shattered for a moment, but my family, friends, my coaches and physio gave me strength and perhaps being mentally tough also helped me to overcome the traumatic period," he said.

Asked if he had prior knowledge that he would be named captain, Sandeep said, "No, it came as a surprise though a friend had informed me that some news regarding this (he being named captain) had appeared in a newspaper a week back."

Sandeep said stepping into the new role of a skipper won't be difficult as his goal was always to win matches.

"The mindset will not change. As a drag flicker, I have always strived that my team wins and comes on top. Now also, when I am captain I will be aiming for the same thing. I am lucky to have senior players like Dilip Tirkey, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot and others in the team and hopefully we should do well," said Sandeep, who hails from Shahbad town in Kurukshetra.

Sandeep said there is no rift in the team and everybody was very happy with the decision.

"Everyone is happy. There is no junior-senior thing in our team. We play like a family, as a unit and the aim is to make India win," he said.

"In future also, we will work like a unit and produce results," he added.

Asked if the Indian team that failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics first time in eight decades lacked skill, Sandeep, who replaces Prabodh Tirkey, said, "yes, nobody expected it to be like that. But I think that is history now and we should look ahead."

Meanwhile, former skipper Pargat Singh said he was surprised at the decision as he felt Sandeep should have been groomed for some more time.

"I cannot say what has prompted them to name Sandeep as captain. Personally, I feel he should have been groomed for some more time.

"But may be it is the eye on future or may be some of our players are not fit enough at this stage which has prompted selectors to take this step. But whatever it is, I think the selectors should ensure that they have a bench strength of fit and performing players ready when major tournaments come up ahead," Pargat said.