Breda (The Netherlands), June 26 (IANS) Ahead of their crucial FIH Champions Trophy tie against defending champions Australia, the Indian hockey team on Tuesday received a big blow as striker Ramandeep Singh was ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury.
“Ramandeep complained about a pinch in his right knee at half-time during our match against Pakistan. But when we rested him for Argentina match and took an MRI on Monday, it was revealed that he has sustained a full thickness condral fracture-injury in the centre of his right knee,” chief coach Harendra Singh explained in a release.
Ramandeep had set the momentum for the Indian team in their opening match against Pakistan after he scored the team’s first goal. He had assisted Lalit Upadhyay in the 60th minute of the match as India had marched to a 4-0 victory.
Though the team will certainly miss the services of the experienced forward, Harendra insisted that this setback should not deter his players from winning.
“We will certainly miss him, we missed him against Argentina too. He is an experienced player and the way he creates space and takes shots on goal has worked for the team. Playing high speed hockey with 17 players can get a bit tiring for the players. But that should not be a deterrent in our pursuit to earn a place in the Final,” he added.
In the past two matches, the team showed a distinct hunger to win as they played to strategy, exhibiting aggressive yet structured and disciplined hockey.
“We made some key changes in how we defend and attack during our preparations for this tournament. I think one of the main elements is that our strikers are willing to take that extra risk in the circle knowing well enough that the defenders will support them if by chance they lose the ball,” Harendra said.
“I think this change in attitude made them play freely in the first two matches and defending well was our priority.”
India will have their best opportunity to showcase their potential against Australia, felt Harendra.
“The team has so much more potential and it’s time they stop hanging on to the No.6 spot in the world and surge to the top three. We have always spoken about doing well against the top 5 world ranked teams. I think this is the best chance to show that we can,” Harendra stated.
“Australia are among the fittest teams in the world, they play with a lot of speed like us and are consistent but we need to carry on the momentum we have started with,” he added.
The defending champions are placed second behind India in the pool table after having drawn 3-3 against Belgium and won 2-1 against Pakistan. The match against Australia will be followed by a clash with World No. 3 Belgium on Thursday.