Hockey: India needs to be confident and consistent, says Oltmans

The Indian men's and women's hockey teams will depart for Rotterdam in the wee hours tomorrow to participate in the FIH World League Round 3 (Semi-finals), a 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament, to be held from June 13-23.

Updated: June 04, 2013 17:35 IST
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New Delhi: Indian Hockey's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans on Tuesday said India needs to put up a "confident and consistent" performance to secure one of the three automatic World Cup berths up for grabs in the FIH World League Round 3.

The Indian men's and women's hockey teams will depart for Rotterdam in the wee hours tomorrow to participate in the FIH World League Round 3 (Semi-finals), a 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament, to be held from June 13-23.

"The men's competition is really very tough but the players should be confident about their own abilities. And if we can show that confidence in a consistent basis, there is no reason why we shouldn't qualify from here," Oltmans told reporters here.

"I can assure you that we will fight our hearts out to be among the 3 top teams," he added during a function organised to unveil the new playing kit of the men's and women's national team here on Tuesday.

Three teams each will qualify directly for next year's World Cup from the two World League Round 3 (Semi-final) events. They will be joined by five continental champions and the host nation.

"Our focus should be to qualify directly either through World League Round 3 or Asia Cup," Oltmans insisted.

Oltmans, who also coached the Netherlands and Pakistan hockey teams, said the Rotterdam-bound Indian team is a fine mixture of youth and experience.

"In Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh, we have some promising youngsters in our forward line while Shivendra (Singh) will lend experience to them," he said.

"We also have best penalty corner specialists in the world in Sandeep (Singh), V R Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh."

Oltmans was happy with Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh, who returned to the squad after a gap, and warned any player against taking his place for granted in the national team.

"Since coming back Sandeep is eager to learn. His attitude is different.

"It always helps when you are not in the team. It tells you that you need to improve in every aspect of the game. He understood the message and worked really hard. The same is the case with Shivendra," he said.

Even though Oltmans is not concerned about the current fitness of Indian players, he rued the absence of a sports psychologist with the side.

"I am not so concerned about the fitness of our players. We need to look at the mental approach of the players. We don't have sports psychologist yet but I hope we will get one in future."

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs also agreed with Oltmans that the competition in the upcoming event is tough.

"The competition is pretty tough. All the teams will want to qualify but we are absolutely keen and we will give it our best shot," he said.

"The more we play European teams the better we will be. Our attack is good but we need to work more on our defence."

India captain Sardar Singh feels physically as well as mentally they are ready for the upcoming challenge.

"Our chances are there but we need to play tough hockey. We need to concentrate, we shouldn't give away easy ball," Singh said.

India have been placed in Pool B in the men's competition alongside hosts Netherlands, New Zealand and Ireland while Pool A consists of Australia, Belgium, Spain and France.

In the women's competition, India have been clubbed along with Belgium, Germany and New Zealand in Pool B. China, Japan, Korea and Netherlands form Pool B.

Meanwhile, the Indian women's team coach Neil Hawgood seemed realistic about his wards chances in the upcoming tournament and admitted that he was not expecting dramatic results.

"It's going to be really tough because you will be playing teams which are ranked 1,3,5,7 in the world," he said.

"I am not expecting out of ordinary. If we manage to qualify it will be a bonus.

"I am expecting to find out the little things we have done have changed or not," he added.

Indian women's team captain Ritu Rani, however, was optimistic about the team's chances.

"We had three months of regular training camps including a foreign trip. During this period we have worked a lot on our fitness and defence. I am hopeful that we will deliver the best result this time," she said.

During Tuesday's event, Hockey India also felicitated living legend and Olympian Allan Schofield with a cheque of Rs two lakhs. Schofield was part of the Indian team that won a gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

HI gave away Rs one lakh each to Sardar and Jaspreet Kaur for winning the player of the tournament awards in FIH World League Round 2 held here.

HI also presented Rs 1.5 lakh each to Sardar and Ritu for winning Asian Hockey Federation Player of the Year 2011 awards.

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