He was keen to but could not accompany the junior team for the Sultan of Johor Cup but Hockey India’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans is not upset. India’s dominant performance in the competition that ended with a crushing win in the final has given him confidence ahead of the junior World Cup in December.
“Of course I am happy with the team, but we all know that this is a strong age-group team for a competition like this. In fact, some of the players in this age were not there in Malaysia so the team will become even stronger before the junior World Cup,” he said on the day the team returned.
Oltmans, however, was quick to refute any assumption that there was much to improve if India hoped to do better than its disappointing ninth-place finish in the previous edition and repeat 2001 — when India won its maiden junior World Cup title.
“There are areas to improve. Penalty corners, that is very clear. Purely going by numbers, the conversion rate may have been disappointing. But how much of it was genuine (missing of chances) and how much was deliberate (hiding by the team and the staff) is difficult to say!
“What we have to remember is that everything is on video now, everyone is following you closely. Sometimes you have to keep some secrets for the main moment, and the main moment is only the World Cup,” he said.
The Dutchman was also impressed with captain Manpreet Singh, saying he was definitely going to lead the team at the World Cup in December — to be held in India. “He is smart, intelligent, hard working and leads through performance. He is definitely a future leader in the making,” Oltmans said.
The HPD will sit with the other coaches to plan the team’s training and schedule for the next two months, knowing well that chief coach Gregg Clark’s contract ends after the junior World Cup. “Yes, yes. There will be a completely new set up,” he said.