'Expect special moves'

Surprising the opponent is an essential part of the art of war and the Indian forwards are ready to exhibit their repertoire of variations in the upcoming Olympic hockey qualifier.

At least two of the participating teams, Canada and Poland, have played India recently (in the Champions Challenge in December last), while others have gone through the routine of watching video clips. The freshness in attack will hold the key for India in crucial and tight situations.

Experienced centre-forward Shivendra Singh gave a rough idea of what to expect.

“We have been doing certain things. If we play our simple game, then it will be good enough to beat lower-ranked teams. However, against teams like Canada and France, we may have to play some special moves,” Shivendra said after the team's practice session at the National Stadium, here on Tuesday.

Chief coach Michael Nobbs has always stressed on combinations and it will be interesting to watch how the forwards fare in different “permutations and combinations.”

Shivendra said, he and Tushar Khandekar, the two most capped strikers in the side, would have to perform important roles upfront.

“If I go off the field, then Tushar stays on and vice versa. Since we are the experienced players in the frontline, we have to maintain coordination among the forwards.”

Khandekar, who had injured one of his fingers during training on Friday, has recovered and is expected to resume practice by Wednesday.


Twenty-eight-year-old Shivendra, one of the few players to have experienced the Chile horror four years ago, sounded philosophical while talking about India's chances this time.

“We do discuss about the debacle among ourselves. Had we qualified, players like me would have become Olympians. We know we are not going to get a chance like this. After all, four years is a long time.

So, we are concentrating hard. If India fails to qualify, then the game will suffer a lot,” he said.

Shivendra, with the experience of 133 caps, said that the best way to get rid of all anxieties was to be on the turf. “There is no pressure when you are on the field. I enjoy playing in front of the home crowd as they boost the team.”

Nobbs also talked about pre-tournament butterflies in the stomach. “Oh God! Coaching is a terrible job. Until the first ball is hit, you tend to get nervous.”

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:46:50 PM |

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