On a high after playing a crucial role in India’s gold-winning performance at the Asian Games, hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said he had to keep his emotions under check during the tense final against Pakistan on Thursday.
“When I entered the ground, the only thought that came to my mind was that we have to win this and we can win this. I had the intuition that it will be our day and we will create history,” Sreejesh told PTI Bhasha.
Sreejesh, who excelled in the penalty shootout which India won 4-2, was glad he managed to handle the pressure. “There was pressure as it was a match against Pakistan but I treated it like any other normal match. We did not let the emotions get the better of us. We played with passion. That was our key to success,” he said.
For the record, India had gone down 1-2 to their arch-rivals in the group stage. “The loss against Pakistan in the pool phase was an eye-opener. After that, we worked harder and were more focused. That’s what helped us beat a strong team like South Korea in the semis,” he said.
Thursday’s win helped India gain a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics. That apart, it erased the memories of the humiliating 1-7 loss to Pakistan at the 1982 Asiad in New Delhi. “Of course, people like to remember good things, good memories. I am sure that they will now remember this win and forget past losses. It is the beginning of a new era,” he said.
Sreejesh admitted the expectations will be higher now. “We know people will expect us to win more (tournaments). They want us to do well at the Rio Olympics and we are ready to deliver.