Australian hockey legend Ric Charlesworth feels going the tradition, India are one of the strong contenders to lift the hockey World Cup to be held here from February 28-March 13.
“I believe, there are at least half a dozen teams who are capable of winning the tournament. I underestimate no team.
But when you look at the history of such tournaments, the home team always do very well,” the former India technical director, who left the country under acrimonious circumstances, said.
A five-time Olympian, Charlesworth was appointed as the technical director to Indian hockey team in 2008 but several issues ranging from slow decision making process to pending financial issues forced him to resign.
But Charlesworth said he has put his past behind and doesn’t have any bitter feelings as he prepares to visit India again during the megaevent, this time donning that hat of coach of title favourites Australia.
“I have always enjoyed India. I was disappointed that I was not able to fulfil the role with the Indian team, but I do not have any bitter feeling about my stay in the country. I have always liked India,” he said.
He also rubbished any security concerns during the World Cup.
“We are going to play the World Cup and don’t want to be distracted. We will be looked after,” Charlesworth said.
“The FIH World Cup is a big event and it will be very much exciting. It will also be a new experience for a lot of our boys who will play in India. We wanted to play in India last year but were not able to,” he said.
He appreciated the capabilities of India coach Jose Brasa and said the eight-time Olympic champions have made good progress under the Spaniard.
“I know Jose since the early 90s when we coached against each other in the women’s programme. He is a capable man and a formidable opponent. I watched India play in Argentina last year and they were impressive without being emphatic,” said Charlesworth, who was appointed Australia’s chief coach last year.
Australia is in Pool B, where they have been clubbed alongside India, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain and England.
Asked about their preparation for the forthcoming event, the Australian exuded confidence of putting up good show.
“We just tried to play as many international matches as possible throughout the year. We know that playing teams such as India at home is be very difficult. But we also have specific strategies in place,” he said.
“Everyone knows the quality of the likes of Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Eddie Ockenden. But we also have some new players who might surprise all,” he added.