Need to handle pressure in Olympic qualifier: Chetri

Updated: 09 January 2012 17:44 IST

Erstwhile hockey powerhouse India has the tendency to crumble in crunch situations and captain Bharat Chetri on Monday said his side will have to do away with the habit ahead of next month's Olympic qualifiers.

Need to handle pressure in Olympic qualifier: Chetri

New Delhi:

Erstwhile hockey powerhouse India has the tendency to crumble in crunch situations and captain Bharat Chetri on Monday said his side will have to do away with the habit ahead of next month's Olympic qualifiers.

Of late, the Indian hockey team has often been guilty of gifting away matches to opponents from comfortable situations, the most recent being the final of the Champions Challenge I tournament in South Africa, which they lost 3-4 to Belgium despite leading the majority of the 70 minutes.

But Chetri felt if they can guard that area in the qualifiers, to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from February 18-26, India are certain to qualify for this year's London Olympics.

"We are now more focussed under new coach (Michael Nobbs). We have got an easy draw (in the Olympic qualifiers) and I believe we should qualify.

"We have vastly improved our fitness levels. We have also developed our skills and are scoring more goals now. But we need to handle pressure in a better manner," Chetri said during the second phase of the team's preparatory camp here ahead of the qualifiers.

Eight-time champions India, who missed the cut for the 2008 Beijing Games, were handed an easy draw as they will fight it out with Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States of America in next month's qualifiers.

Despite the easy draw, the pressure of expectations would be high on the Indians when they turn out in the qualifiers before home fans, but the skipper felt otherwise.

"We will have the home advantage. The crowd will be behind us," Chetri said.

The custodian was full of praise for new coach Michael Nobbs and his tactics.

"Nobbs is a very attacking-minded coach. His focus is to put pressure on the opposition by scoring 3-4 goals in the first 15 minutes," Chetri said.

As part of preparation for the Olympic Qualifiers, India will play a Test series against South Africa here from January 16 to 22, and Chetri believed the series will be hugely beneficial for the home team.

"The Test series against South Africa will benefit us. 25-30 players will play against South Africa and whoever gives his best will be selected in the Indian team for the qualifiers."

Topics : Hockey
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