We want to make up for Hockey World Cup failure: HarendraBy IANS
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
NEW DELHI - It is not just the gold medal that is driving the Indian men’s hockey team to jog the extra mile as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games competition beginning at the Dhyan Chand Stadium here from Oct 4.
“We would like to make up for our performance at the World Cup and I will say that we are playing far better than we did then,” said coach Harendra Singh in reference to the ninth place finish at the FIH World Cup held at the same venue in February-March this year.
Apparently, the players have kept their focus on winning at least a medal in the midst of the seemingly endless negative publicity the Games have been attracting recently.
Team captain Rajpal Singh said as much and Harendra Singh echoed the sentiments while giving the thumbs up to the Games Village and the facilities at the disposal of the athletes.
A major portion of the team preparations has been on strengthening midfield play and also goal scoring, both of which were found wanting at the World Cup.
“We conceded too many soft goals at the World Cup, especially when we went on a counter-attack. Each time we lost the ball, we allowed the opponents to slip past us on the turn,” said Harendra.
In terms of fitness level, the coach said the players were in far better condition than at any time in the past, he said.
“Touch wood, all the players are fit and there are no injuries. The overall fitness of the players too has improved. We are pretty confident of a good performance. Like I said, we are targeting a medal,” said Harendra.
The Indian men’s team has never won a medal in hockey since the sport was introduced in the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
The preparations received a big boost when the Indian team beat England, semi-finalists at the 2010 World Cup, 3-1 in a practice game (three halves of 20 minutes) and the two are set to meet again tonight.
“We tried out a few things in that game and the result of course was a confidence booster,” said Harendra.
India are placed in a tough group that includes World champions Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia who finished in that order at the 2006 Games.
Harendra said he was not unduly worried about being in the tougher of the two groups. “May be, it is better this way. In any case, we have to beat the top teams to win the gold medal.”
Tags: New Delhi