Newly-appointed Indian men’s hockey team captain PR Sreejesh said there is no “easy match” in a sporting extravaganza like the Olympics, and all 12 teams will fancy their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals in Rio.
“It is Olympics and there is nothing easy. Every match will be serious affair,” he said before departing for Spain en route to Rio.
“In each group there are six teams out of which four will qualify for the quarterfinals. Therefore, it is very important for us to garner as many points as possible to increase our chances because the new format gives an opportunity to every team,” he said.
Unlike previous editions, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has introduced a new competition format in this year’s Olympics.
As per the new format, 12 teams have been divided into two pools of six with each team initially playing round-robin games within their pool. Following the completion of the round-robin games, the top four teams from each pool will advance to the quarterfinals.
Previously, after completion of round robin games top two teams from each pool used to directly qualify for the semifinals.
Sreejesh, who took over the captaincy mantle from long-standing Sardar Singh just ahead of the Olympics, said they are ready to face any side in the quarterfinals.
“We are ready to meet anybody in the quarterfinals. We cannot say we want this team or that team. We will give our 100 per cent against any side, be it world world champions Australia,” he said.
Sreejesh said hockey is a team and a captain hardly has any role on the pitch.
“Hockey is a team game and all 11 players on the field are captains. They have specific responsibilities to shoulder.
We are going to Rio as a team,” he said.
The experienced goalkeeper said a few practice matches in Spain before heading to Rio will hold India is good stead in the Olympics.
“We are going to Spain mainly for acclimatisation. We need a break from here. We will play a couple of practice matches there and know where we stand. The climate of Rio during the Games will be to similar Spain. So, it is a good decision to go to Spain before landing at Rio,” Sreejesh said.