Refusing to blame players’ fitness levels for India’s disappointing performance in the recently-concluded Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, team physio Shrikant Iyenger, however admitted that there is a scope for improvement as far as fitness is concerned.
Five-time champions India finished a lowly sixth in the seven-nation tournament and the a number of former players chose to blame poor fitness level of the team for the debacle.
“It will be wrong to say that we lost the tournament because of fitness issues. There were many other reasons. But it is true that we have to improve our fitness level to be at par with other big teams.
“Modern hockey is all about fitness and no team can ignore that,” Shrikant told ‘PTI Bhasha’ from Raipur.
Shrikant, who will also submit a report on India’s show in Azlan Shah Cup like other support staff, opted to defend the players while pointing out that weather, scheduling of the matches and loss against Pakistan were the major reasons behind the team’s flop show.
“Our players did not play international hockey for almost five months prior to Azlan Shah. Other teams have a strong club culture and they have been playing club hockey. Body takes time to get conditioned while de-conditioning is much faster and easier. Plus some key players were out because of injuries and some were not in top form,” he said.
The physio also claimed that Indian team will be much fitter before Champions trophy and Olympic qualifiers to be held in December and February in Delhi.
“If you see individually, each player is much improved fitnesswise now. But we have keep working hard on this aspect.
I can guarantee you that we will see a fitter Indian team from Champions trophy onwards. The fitness level will be better than that was in Asian Games.”
Keywords: Sultan Azlan Shah