India’s scheduled tour of the Netherlands, should it gain approval, will be ideal preparation for the FIH World League Round 3 competition, believes the national men’s coach Michael Nobbs.
The Australian was speaking during the national camp at the Sports Authority of India here on Tuesday, where trials were held to select the team for the tour.
“We’re using the Dutch tour to fine-tune things and find the best team for the FIH World League Round 3 competition (June 13-22, Rotterdam),” Nobbs said.
“We’ve got the Asia Cup afterwards (August 24-September 1), so that’s two chances to qualify for the World Cup.”
The door was not shut on the likes of Sandeep Singh, who has been recalled to the camp, Nobbs said.
“Age is not a barrier. It’s a question of whether they can reinvent themselves before the junior players take their place.”
The selectiors’ eye, however, was on players with speed, Nobbs clarified.
“The biggest change in hockey is the play-on rule: the self-pass rule from free hits. That has sped the game up astronomically; the umpires can’t even cope. The old things like playing good position are still important but if you don’t have speed you’re history,” he said.
The Dutch tour, comprising three matches against the national team and four against club sides, was organised by the High Performance Manager Roelant Oltmans, Nobbs revealed.
“We had nowhere else to turn. Nobody would play us because they had their own programs. Roelant obviously has contacts in Holland,” he said.
Birendra Lakra, who is appearing for examinations, and Gurwinder Singh Chandi, who is recovering from injury, will not be considered for the tour. Nobbs also stated that a short goalkeeping camp, led by an overseas coach, was one of his priorities.
“If we are hindered from success anywhere, it is in that area,” he said.