Will be a strong contender in next Olympics

A silver medal in the recent Asia Cup has virtually assured India a place in next year’s World Cup and Indian hockey’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans feels the erstwhile champions of the game will be a force to reckon with in the 2016 Olympics.

India lost to defending champions South Korea 2-3 in a hard-fought contest in the final of the Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia recently but despite the defeat, the Sardar Singh-led side has virtually booked its ticket to next year’s World Cup.

India will now just have to wait till November for the official confirmation from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) which will come only after the conclusion of the Oceania Cup.

“We will have to wait for New Zealand or Australia to win the Oceania Cup. Normally, one of these two teams wins the Oceania Cup. It is very unlikely that a team like Samoa or Papua New Guinea will beat Australia or New Zealand. So considering that we are happy that we have more or less qualified for the World Cup,” Oltmans told PTI in an interview.

“But still we have lot of work to do, we have to match the top teams of the world. Look at Belgium, they are now a rapidly improved side and are beating teams like Germany, Australia and the Netherlands. I feel we will take another couple of years to beat top sides of the world. I feel we will be one of the strong contenders for the 2016 Olympics if not the 2014 World Cup,” he said.

“We are getting closer and closer but we will need some more time. We need to play more tough games like the Asia Cup final against South Korea,” he added.

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