Six-time champions Australia are favorites in Birmingham and the Indians will have to beat them at some point if they are to clinch gold. But, Manpreet said his players aren’t sweating yet thinking about their potential matchup with the Kookaburras.
“At the moment we are concentrating on the group stage matches and not thinking about Australia at all. Everyone is of the opinion that we give our best in these matches and then think what Australia has to offer when we play them,” Manpreet said. during a virtual press conference before the Games.
India’s history at the Commonwealth Games
The Indian team begins its campaign with a group game against Ghana on Sunday.
Australia have won each of the six Commonwealth Games hockey tournaments to date.
“As a team we have set ourselves the goal of winning a medal in Birmingham and we can also feel the weight of expectation. However, to reach this stage we have to give our best in every game and take no opposition lightly,” he added.
The 30-year-old, who will make his 300th appearance for India when they face Ghana, described his playing career as a roller coaster full of ups and downs.
“The trip has been absolutely special. It has also been a pure honor to play for India for so long. The game has taught me so many things about life.
“I made my debut in 2011 when India won the Asian Champions Trophy. However, the following year, London Olympics was disastrous because we couldn’t win a single game. We improved by leaps and bounds over the next few years by winning big events. So it’s been a roller coaster ride for me,” Manpreet said.
The head coach Graham Reidwho has been in charge since 2019, said he was fully aware of what the players are capable of achieving at Birmingham.
“We have high expectations from each other in Birmingham. Yes, there will also be huge expectations from the Indian fans, who will want us to win a medal. But those are outside pressures and we can’t do it. we can only control what is within our reach,” Reid said.