Three goals in six matches for India at the Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup boosted the confidence of drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh. He now wants his side Dabang Mumbai to finish on the podium in the fifth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) beginning January 21.
Mumbai will play former champions Ranchi Rays in the opening match at home. After scoring a goal each against Canada and England in the league matches, Harmanpreet scored again in the quarterfinal against Spain, which India won 2-1.
“It was exciting as I knew the goal (against Spain) would change our fortunes,” recalls Harmanpreet, who is optimistic of a better show from Mumbai this time.
“Our win in the quarters was outstanding as it gave us confidence and that’s why we could fulfill our dream of winning the cup,” said Harmanpreet, who had 15 goals to his name when India won the Junior Men’s Asia Cup last year.
His India teammates like Krishna Pathak, Nilkanta Sharma, Manpreet Singh, Vikas Sharma and Gurjant Singh are with him in the Mumbai franchise and that will make a difference.
“We have been playing together for the last two years before winning the Junior World Cup, and I find this combination good for the success of our team in HIL,” he said.
Harmanpreet admitted the win in the Junior World Cup has changed the fortune of the players. “I was amazed to see the crowd support, and it’s great that now people admire and recognise you.
“I had no idea that one day hockey would change my image and personality. I started playing just for fun at the age of 10, but never dreamt of such a scenario.”
Harmanpreet, who feels HIL gives Indian players the confidence to rub shoulders with top international stars, refused to believe that only Indians get to learn.
“In the last few years, the standard of Indian hockey has gone up manifold and foreign players too learn from us,” said Harmanpreet, who will turn 21 on January 6.