The photograph of junior India skipper Harjeet Singh in bed with the hockey World Cup trophy went viral in 2016. One of the stars of that campaign, Harjeet, it seemed, had a great future. That is not how things turned out though. Admitting that he is disappointed at not being part of the senior World Cup, Harjeet said he is proud of his junior India teammates who have made it to Bhubaneswar.
Seven from the 2016 juniors’ squad — goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, defenders Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar, midfielders Nilakanta Sharma and Sumit, and forwards Mandeep Singh and Simranjeet Singh — are part of the senior World Cup.
“It’s the dream of every player to represent the country at the highest level and I am no different. At times I feel disappointed that I couldn’t make it to the next level but I am proud that players with whom I was associated closely are contributing to the senior World Cup squad,” said Harjeet.
“It’s not only me, everyone is talking about them and because of their performance in Bhubaneswar, references to the 2016 junior World Cup triumph are again being made.”
“We all are from the same batch. But then, some grabbed the opportunity well. The way Varun, Simranjeet and Mandeep are playing in Bhubaneswar is really amazing and nobody can say they were juniors two years ago. The best part is that they got just few opportunities to cement places in the senior squad and they executed it very well,” said Harjeet.
“In the last match against Belgium, Varun, Simranjeet and Mandeep’s performance was exceptional. Harendra Sir being part of both the teams has really helped them graduate to the next level.”
Talking about the difference between the two World Cups, he said: “You can’t compare them. At senior level, you don’t get time to think when you get the ball or you are part of a move. But at the junior level, it is comparatively slower and you have time to think and react,” said Harjeet.
“Before the start of the World Cup I had a word with all of them, but now that the event has started, it is best to let them stay away from all interactions and focus on the World Cup….I pray to God that they have one more World Cup title in their kitty.”
First Published: Dec 06, 2018 03:44 IST