The Indian hockey team that will grace the field from Saturday at the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar looks very promising. 2014 has seen a vast improvement in the performance of the team. Apart from clinching the silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, they also won gold at the Asian Games at Incheon. Just two days ago, India beat Australia, 2-0 in a practice match. Things haven’t looked this promising for the Indian team in a long time.
The Champions Trophy will feature eight of the best teams in the world competing for the top prize. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that for any team to win the tournament, they will have to get past the Australians. Winners of the tournament since the past five editions, the stellar Australian team also won the world cup this year.
But this new looking Indian team is bustling with confidence and will be looking to improve upon their past performances in the tournament. Sadly, the team’s best performance has been securing a bronze medal way back in 1982.
While the teams continue to put in stellar performances on the field, off it, there continue to be problems surrounding the way Hockey India is being managed. Head coach, Terry Walsh resigned recently citing bureaucratic inefficiencies. In his absence, India’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans assured that his team will give it their all. “Only thing on our mind is to prepare ourselves as much as possible before the tournament because we don’t know what other teams are doing. It is a very important tournament, where the top teams in the world are playing. We are planning our strategies according to the teams and we, as hosts, are confident to face them,” said Oltmans
Oltamns will be relying on the team’s lynchpin Sardar Singh to dictate play and carry his team forward. Much is also expected from the young and energetic penalty corner specialist Gurjinder Singh. Another player to watch out is the swift moving forward, S.V. Sunil. The team will be looking to channel their attacking game play through him. His aggressive and quick play is just what the team will need to weave past more compact defences.
Our dear neighbor, Pakistan on the other hand, hasn’t looked very comprehensive in the build up to the tournament. The team’s mere participation wasn’t guaranteed till last month. That is when a Pakistani businessman, Nadeem Omar decided to fund the trip for the entire team. The players and the hockey federation have been locked in a battle over non-payment of dues.
For now, India will be solely focusing on getting the better of Germany in their tournament opener. A good result against the reigning Olympic champions will put the Indian team in a great position to get into the latter stages of the tournament.
Image Source: [http://img.dunyanews.tv/news/2014/January/01-19-14/news_big_images/208907_88006918.jpg]