New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Indian hockey team captain Sardar Singh has said that forward Nikkin Thimmaiah and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh raised their game-levels which led to their bronze medal winning performance at the recently concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
India did not start well at the invitational tournament in Ipoh following their 2-2 draw against South Korea and two consecutive losses to New Zealand (1-2) and hosts Malaysia (2-3).
However, they made an incredible turnaround to beat Canada (5-3) and reigning World Champions Australia (4-2) and qualify for the bronze medal match, in which they beat South Korea in the penalty shootout on Sunday to grab the metal.
“Our team started slow in the tournament as we have given opportunities to some young players. But the best part is that these young boys recovered quickly from the early jolts,” said Sardar.
“Though we came under pressure after disappointing results in the first few matches, we maintained the same target to give the best in every match and our boys did the same. Sreejesh and Nikkin played brilliantly and they have raised their levels in the tournament.”
This tournament was the first one under new chief coach Paul van Ass and the playmaker said that it was a good experience playing under the Dutchman.
“This is also our first tournament under coach Paul van Ass and it was a good experience with him. We tried some new strategies and team combinations which worked positively. The experience in the tournament will surely help us for our upcoming Hockey World League,” said the skipper.