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FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023: P R Sreejesh is all positive, he feels his team can do better than 2018

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Veteran India goalkeeper P R Sreejesh is positive about the upcoming FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023, he feels his team can do better than the last edition’s quarter-final exit, and even finish on top of the podium this time.

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Ahead of India’s first Pool D match on Friday against Spain, Sreejesh said,

“It is a great honor for me to play my fourth World Cup for our country and the special part is, this is my third World Cup on home soil. I don’t think any player has had this privilege of playing three World Cups at home.”

He added,

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“In 2018, we couldn’t go into the semis. Now, we have one more opportunity to change our fortunes at this mega event. Hopefully, we can improve our previous performance and finish on top.”

India has not finished on the podium in 48 years since winning the gold in 1975, in Kuala Lumpur under captain Ajit Pal Singh.

Sreejesh played a key role in India’s historic bronze-winning feat in the Tokyo Olympics. The 34-year-old goalkeeper is the second most capped Indian player in the team after Manpreet Singh. Sreejesh said results matter more than the number of times a player participates in a marquee event like the World Cup. He said,

“I’ve always felt it’s not about how many times you have played a tournament but whether you have won it or not is what matters the most. This time too, it’s important for me to give my 100 percent and get the desired result from the tournament.”

Sreejesh remembered his first outing at the World Cup when the head coach asked him to pad up to guard India’s post against Pakistan during the New Delhi edition in 2010.

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“My first match in the World Cup was against Pakistan. I still remember, during the team meeting, our coach said that Pakistan will come fully prepared for goalkeeper Adrian (D’Souza) so he decided to put me in the match against them. When he asked me to pad up, the feeling of getting a chance was simply incredible.” 

He further said,

“To play my first World Cup match in front of a packed home ground against Pakistan felt like a dream. I can still feel the atmosphere, how the stadium was, how people reacted, and how we won that match. That was the best moment for me as a youngster. Every World Cup is special for a player but I distinctly remember the 2014 World Cup in Hague. We finished 9th unfortunately, but we fought well in that tournament. Personally, for me, I thought that was a great performance.”

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