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Indian hockey team looks forward to the challenges ahead

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Indian hockey has long struggled with the burden of expectations, much to its detriment, but with one month to go for the Rio Olympics, the present lot is cherishing the feeling while being aware of the challenges ahead.

Returning after a month-long European tour that saw the team win a historic silver medal at the Champions Trophy in London and then finish fifth at a six-nation event in Spain on Tuesday, coach Roelant Oltmans was satisfied with the performances and optimistic of the team’s chances at Rio.

“We in India always have great expectations from everyone including the crowds. We understand that the silver at London has only increased expectations and we are not running away from that.

“We embrace them and would work really hard in the coming weeks on a couple of details that I feel we still have to improve on and then we are ready for Rio and then the tournament starts,” Oltmans said on the team’ return.

That said, he did admit that the outcome of a couple of games in Valencia could have been better if the players had been a bit sharper, one of the areas that he would be looking to work on in the coming weeks.

Fitness, though, would not be one of them. Oltmans was all praise for the team’s fitness levels while admitting that no one can play too many matches at high intensity all the time.





Sardar conundrum

One area of concern would be Sardar Singh’s form even though the captain had the coach’s backing.

“He may be slowing down a bit when playing in the midfield because of holding the ball a bit too much.

“Also when holding the ball longer there is the danger of losing the ball. Sardar is an option in the midfield but also a very good option in the attack, something he has already done during the Hockey World League Finals in Raipur.

“The good thing is that the boys give me a lot of options and hopefully it is also confusing for the opponents,” Oltmans said.

The final 16 for Rio will be announced on July 12.

They will then proceed for a short camp in Bengaluru before heading to Madrid and thereon to Rio.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 12:35:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/Indian-hockey-team-looks-forward-to-the-challenges-ahead/article14472857.ece

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