Perfect chance to script turnaround

Indian hockey team is still in the process of recovering from the slide that started in Doha

Four years on, the hockey team is still in the process of recovering from the setbacks that followed subsequently. The 16th Asian Games will present them with a perfect platform to script a turnaround.

Focused on that goal, the Indians have been going through the drills with utmost focus, having arrived here last Friday itself.  As they wound up another session at the Aoti Hockey Centre under the watchful eyes of chief coach Jose Brasa, national coach Harendra Singh expressed confidence that the team would realise its goal of winning the title itself.

“We don’t know what the qualification criteria for the London 2012 Olympic Games will be. The FIH is yet to finalise it. But the champions will certainly qualify and that will be our prime objective,” said Harendra, pointing out that the last Asian Games had triggered the slide that eventually saw the country missing out on the Olympic Games for the first time in their history.

“People say that Santiago was a blot, but for me, the Asian Games started it with that one disastrous match against China,” said Harendra. “This is our chance to get things back on track. We played our first Olympic Games after Independence at London (1948) and we should grab this chance to be there again. That is what I have been telling the players,” he said.

The coach said arriving early had helped the Indians get used to the turf. “It is a new one and it is hard and a bit bumpy. They have to water it properly. We have told the Technical Director about it and the competition manager has assured us that it will be done,” said Harendra, who felt the players are more focused after the Commonwealth Games.

“Winning the silver in New Delhi was a positive thing but we conceded soft goals against Australia and the effort since then has been to minimise errors in defence. We gave easy chances to Australia in the final. We have been working hard to tighten our defence -- that has been our main focus here,” said the coach. India’s first match is against Hong Kong China on November 15. The other teams in the group are Pakistan, Japan and Bangladesh.

GPS system

Meanwhile, the team continued its use of the GPS system to monitor the players performance relating to speed, agility, endurance, heart-rate etc.  The system -- long advocated by Brasa -- was introduced in the training camp in New Delhi after the CWG.

Each player wears a small instrument the size of a mobile phone that helps in monitoring his work during his stay on the pitch. The data gained is used to analyse a player’s physical abilities and could be used to improve his training.

“It is an excellent system but it will benefit us only in the long term,” said Harendra as the players trooped in, eagerly looking at the lap-top screen to see their chart.

“We have been asking for it for a long time. Only now the Sports Authority of India has got it. It will certainly benefit us in the future.”

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