India hockey defender Nilam Sanjeep Xess said on Friday that the competition for a place in the team was so fierce that he might have to wait for some more time to add to the 14 caps he has earned so far.

“Of course, it’s a part and parcel of the game for any young player,” the 22-year-old, who will reunite with the Manpreet Singh-led team which returned from the successful tour of Argentina, said.

Xess said that one needs wait for the opportunity and make full use of it to cement his place in the team.

“I have realised that one has to be patient to survive in international hockey. Especially, in a team where there are so many top players. We are in good form right now. I just want to better myself as a player and not worry too much about other details,” said Xess.

“The credit has to be given to the ethos set by (chief coach) Graham Reid and the senior players; they never make you feel any less important because you’re a young player who hasn’t played a lot recently. My focus is on making the best use of the opportunities I receive, whether in training or on the pitch.”

Even as the team was defeating Olympic champions Argentina in Buenos Aires, Xess along with 10 other team-mates, including Chinglensana Singh, SV Sunil and Ramandeep Singh, continued their training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

He was delighted when India performed exceptionally well in Argentina.

“I was watching the team during the Argentina tour and the Europe tour before that. We showed that, on our day, we can match any side. The team is in good shape and we have to continue to build on this momentum,” he added.

Xess has now set his sights on winning the Olympic gold. “Winning an Olympic gold has been a lifelong dream for me. I have been really pushing myself over the past year, even when there were no matches. We will continue to work on getting better as a team before flying to Tokyo,” said Xess.

–IANS

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