Asserting that the Rio Olympics has now started by true means, Indian men's hockey team captain PR Sreejesh has admitted that his side cannot afford to commit any more mistakes in the quarter-finals of the ongoing prestigious quadrennial event against Belgium, which is to be played tomorrow.
"Now, the real Olympics starts, because there is no chance for any losses. It is now all about winning the matches. So, it is more important to concentrate on the positive side and sharpen your weak points because you cannot afford any mistake from over there. So, it is always important to perform well in the quarter-finals," Sreejesh told ANI.
Despite suffering a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Netherlands, India booked their place in the last eight after Argentina and Germany settled with a 4-4 draw in their group clash.
The Indian side, however, ended their group stage of the men's hockey event at the Rio Olympics with a 2-2 draw against Canada here at Olympics Hockey Centre in Deodoro last evening.
Reflecting on his side's overall performance in the campaign so far, the 28-year-old believes his side have been playing remarkably well at the moment, while adding they had also shown a lot of improvement after the past few matches.
"When we qualified for the Rio, our first target was to get into the quarterfinals. I think the team is playing really well. The way they performed against the top teams is remarkable. As a team, I think we are performing really well. We are showing improvement. I think we have gained a lot of confidence from the past matches.And I think that is going to help us in the quarterfinals. I think winning a match is more important for us now a days and gaining some points in the lay ground that makes the difference in the quarterfinals. Today's match was a big disappointment, but still the players are confident enough to face any players in the quarter-finals," he added.
Although admitting that his players are matured enough to raise their level according to the situation, Sreejesh said his side need to be more alert and had to sharpen their skills for the upcoming 'big' game.
"We had a meeting and we discussed about all the weak points where we need to improve. I think we had got some good penalty corners. So, we can score from anytime and anywhere. We have got some good defence where we could have avoided some last dying goal moments. I think we need to sharpen. We need to be more alert when it comes to big matches like quarter-finals. I think players are matured enough to realise the situation and they will raise their level accordingly," he added.
India, who finished fourth in Pool B, had last reached the final eight stage of the Olympics in the 2004 Athens edition after which they failed to qualify for the Beijing Games before finishing last in 2012 London Games.