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Sandeep happy about new penalty-corner rule
May 21, 2004 18:33 IST
Upbeat after a "morale-boosting" tour of Japan, teenage penalty-corner ace Sandeep Singh is now working on novel variations as he gears up to fill the void created by the absence of his "idol" Jugraj Singh.
The 19-year-old from Jalandhar said he is also working hard to excel in the role of defender and improve his tackling so that he can become an all-round player.
"I should also be good defender and I am working on it. I need to improve my tackling a little so that my team is benefited from my all-round abilities.
"I am also adding variations to my penalty-corners."
Sandeep, who shot into the limelight after his exploits in Indian junior hockey team's Asia Cup win in Pakistan last month, is being seen as a player "for the future", blessed as he is with immense potential.
But for this up-and-coming player, who realises that he has still has a long way to go before he can be compared with Jugraj, playing in the Athens Olympics is his "ultimate" dream.
"It's too early to compare me with Jugraj. He is such a great player," he says.
"But I have got a lot of confidence that will help me settle down in the senior team. If I had slightest doubts over my abilities, I would not have been playing in the national team.
"It's a dream of every player to represent the country in the Olympics. My ultimate dream is to play in the Olympics in August and help the team win a medal," he said.
Sandeep said his outing in the four-nation tournament in Japan did a world of good to him since he learnt several tips on improving his game.
"Playing in the senior level is altogether a different ball game. You get more mature as you play against tough opponents at the highest level.
"It was a learning experience in Japan since I could make some adjustments to my game. I learnt how to make my drag-flicks more effective and worked on my defence play," said Sandeep, who scored two goals from five attempts in Japan.
The player expressed happiness with the change in the penalty-corner rule, which will come into effect from June 1, saying it will make scoring easier, but admitted that as a defender he has to be extra cautious to ensure that he does not give away any penalty-corners.
"Of course it will help me a lot. The goalpost will be virtually empty. The defender has to stop the flick with the stick, which is quite difficult. So I can score more goals.
"At the same time it has some disadvantages. We have to be extra careful and should not concede too many penalty-corners."
Sandeep, who scored 16 goals in the Asia Cup -- 14 from penalty-corners and two from strokes -- said he is also looking to double-up as a penalty stroke specialist.
"We are also going to get more strokes due to the new rule. My experience in converting strokes will come handy."