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2020 Oly Qualifier
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OQ T M: Never will we underestimate our rival (10/31/2019)
--s2h Team
Quoting various examples from the Olympic Qualifier Tests that are going on across continents, Indian captain Manpreet Singh said that his team will not underestimate any team, and accordingly has been putting all efforts to put up a good show against Russia in the Bhubaneswar double header which starts tomorrow.

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"We saw how Ireland-Canada, Pakistan-Netherlands matches went (in the Olympic Qualifier Tests). The matches have been close, severity of which is unexpected due to difference in the world ranking of the teams. However, these ranks did not matter. This aspect was clear in Amsterdam and Vancouver. We have been focussing on our game rather than other team's rank. The Pakistan match, Ireland match further proved how correct our thinking is" said speaking to crowded media.

"Ever since we came here, we have decided never to underestimate our opponent".

Fifth ranked India will take on 22nd ranked Russia tomorrow at Kalinga stadium in the first of two matches winner of which will make it to Tokyo 2020.

"We are even preparing well for shoot outs" added Graham Reid, echoing his team's captains view point while replying to a pointed question.

"If you look at last week's games in qualifiers, it's the first thing you would see the complacency factor. My message has been pretty much the same ever since I joined the team. Always treat everyone with respect, like you are playing the best in the world. We have prepared as well as we could and are ready", added Reid.

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Manpreet Singh and chief coach Reid were repeated grilled for the recent changes that have been effected in the team composition.

The question of including Birendra Lakra replacing Kothajit was the focal point.

"Its not that he his from local and was selected. No. He was part of the core 22 and then part of 20-member team that toured Europe. Its always difficult for coaches to pindown 18 from 22, as every player puts up good show in the run up, keeps best possible fitness levels", said Manpreet Singh who shoulders India's hopes being there in Tokyo.

"It's coaches' wisdom, considering which player fits in the team. Like Birender has been brought in place of Varun. Besides, it's his home ground, he will get great support as well".

"Birendra Lakra is fighter, tackler and has all things that is expected of him", added Reid justifying his inclusion in the team.

"The preparations are good because this is extremely important tournament. We are doing our best, working on fitness, learnt a lot from Belgium tour. Worked hard in the two weeks here before the tournament", added Manpreet Singh. Speaking on the inclusion of other senior players like Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay and Sreejesh, Mapreet has to say this: "Their experience is going to make a difference. Sunil takes the strikers along, similarly Rupinder in defence. Our youngsters like Vivek, Nilakanta and Hardik are also good, the team is a good mixture of senior and junior".

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