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If I Can Play Olympics at 37, Why Can’t Sardar Singh Play a World Cup at 32: Dhanraj Pillay

India hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay has come out in support of former captain and midfielder Sardar Singh, saying he could have been a vital cog for India in the upcoming Hockey World Cup.

Arjit Dabas | News18 Sports

Updated:November 28, 2018, 10:15 AM IST
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If I Can Play Olympics at 37, Why Can’t Sardar Singh Play a World Cup at 32: Dhanraj Pillay
Sardar Singh (Image: Hockey India/Twitter)
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India hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay has come out in support of former captain and midfielder Sardar Singh, saying he could have been a vital cog for India in the upcoming Hockey World Cup.

The 32-year-old midfielder recently announced his retirement and later blamed former coach Sjoerd Marijne and high performance director David John for prompting him to make the decision.

“If Dhanraj can play an Olympics at 37, why can’t Sardar play a World Cup at 32,” said Pillay, talking to News18 Sports. “I feel his experience in the midfield could have been crucial. Now you just have to play four quarters of 15 minutes each. He could have easily played 8-9 minutes each quarter.

"He was also among the fittest members in the team. It’s also sad to see Rupinderpal Singh and SV Sunil missing, but you can’t do anything with injuries. These players could have played an important role for us, but now we need to look forward to whatever players we have. We need to give them our full backing,” added Pillay.

In the absence of some key players, Pillay added that it will be up to the likes of PR Sreejesh, captain Manpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh to deliver.

“Sreejesh will have a very important role, not only as a goalkeeper but also organizing the team from behind. It will be very crucial, I also expect Manpreet in midfield to stand-up and deliver. He is the captain and one of the most experienced players in the team; he needs to have a good tournament,” said Pillay.

Speaking about the World Cup campaign, the veteran added that it is important for India to set the tone in the first match against South Africa and then carry the good form from there.

“We need to win our first match, get our morale and confidence high. If we are able to reach the quarterfinals, then it’s anyone’s game. Don’t forget we will also have the crowd backing us and that can make a difference in big games,” said the 50-year-old.

Pillay gave his full backing to coach Harendra Singh, saying he will be under pressure to deliver but one can never question his preparation as he will give his 100%. However he was realistic in his expectations, saying some of the other teams look stronger on paper.

“Harry (Harendra) will be expected to win the tournament but we must realize that the likes of Australia, Netherlands, Germany and Argentina will be tough opponents. But as I said, anything is possible once the knockouts start.”

He also urged the fans to come out in full support of the team, saying it’s their responsibility to back team India.

“I have had the honour of playing in four World Cups for India but I can tell you this one will be among the best we have ever had. The Kalinga stadium (Pillay played a legend’s match when it was inauguration) looks amazing. its capacity has also increased to 35,000 and I want to see every seat occupied,” he said.
| Edited by: Shayne Dias
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