Easy draw raises India's hopes

According to the draw released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), India, eight-time Olympic gold medallists who failed to qualify for the Beijing Games, will play lower-ranked teams Canada, France, Poland, Egypt and the United States in the first qualifying event to be held here from February 15-26.

“It’s a very easy pool. If we fail to qualify for the Olympics from here it would be a big shame for India hockey. According to my view, in this pool no other team can threaten India,” said former captain Ajitpal Singh, who led India to its only hockey World Cup triumph in Kuala Lumpur in 1975.

“But complacency is something which India needs to be careful about. They should be prepared to face any consequence,” added the three-time Olympian.

Another former India skipper Pargat Singh also agreed with Ajitpal and said inspite of the easy draw the team should be prepared for any eventuality.

“If we can’t qualify from this pool it will be the worst thing to happen to Indian hockey. If you ask me we are relatively in a very easy group. “The other teams are good but they are not better than us,” he said.

“But all said and done, we shouldn’t underestimate any team. We shouldn’t think that the other teams are weak,” the mercurial defender of his times said.

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