Hockey WC: We will play to win for Ramandeep, Nikkin, says Sreejesh

The Hague: India will definitely miss the services of Ramandeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah in the upcoming hockey World Cup but injuries to the two key strikers has made the team more determined to put up a good show in the mega-event, said goalkeeper P R Sreejesh.

Both Ramandeep and Nikkin have been ruled out of the tournament due to injuries after landing here. While Ramandeep suffered multiple fractures to his right eye socket and cheekbone during a practice game against Argentina, Nikkin sustained a hamstring injury during training. Lalit Upadhyay and Yuvraj Walmiki have replaced the duo in the squad.

"While we will be missing both Nikkin Thimmaiah and Ramandeep Singh, it has not dampened our spirits. Rather we are more determined to win. We will play to win for them as their hopes are pinned on us," Sreejesh said here.

For any team the first game of a tournament is always crucial and Sreejesh too aired the same feeling.

"The first game is critical for both India as well as the Belgians. The Belgium side at The Hague is one of the most experienced team with 10 players having surpassed the 100 international appearances mark but I feel that our team which is a combination of young and experienced players will give them a tough challenge," he said.

The Indian men`s hockey team will open their World Cup campaign against Belgium in a tough Group A on Saturday.

Stating that goalkeepers of both the teams will have a busy outing in Saturday`s match, Sreejesh challenged the Belgians to outwit him and his colleague Harjot Singh under the Indian goal.

"Our opening match in the World Cup will be a war between Jeremy Gucassoff and Vincent Vanasch -- the goalkeepers of Belgium on one side and Harjot Singh and me on the other side.

Let`s see who is able to save more goals," he said.

"We are up for the challenge and we will ensure we are the winners. So I think the Belgians need to think hard and strategise themselves to surpass us," Sreejesh added.

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