Nobbs not bothered by lack of practice matches

Most teams competing in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers are testing their match-readiness by playing practice games against each other with the Indian men’s team being one of the few exceptions.

On Wednesday, coach Michael Nobbs asserted that he would not be doing so as he doesn’t want the opposition to get a taste of the things, believing rather in delivering the goods on match day.

“I’ve seen in my career it can work both ways,” said the Australian after Thursday’s morning practice session here. “We prepared really well for this tournament, and I don’t believe playing a practice game makes you any better.

“It’s better we reserve our energy for the actual games and practice harder amongst ourselves which we are doing at the moment. The fitness level of the players is good and, thankfully, there are no injuries so far. We are peaking at the moment.”

Indian skipper Bharat Chetri, who addressed the media along with Nobbs, also echoed the coach’s view. “It don’t think (not playing practice games) is a concern. Our first match is against Singapore followed by Italy. I think they will serve as practice games before we hit the business end.”

Meanwhile, ace drag-flicker and defender Sandeep Singh said the fortnight-long training session with veteran Dilip Tirkey has injected new-found confidence.

“He was one of the best defenders of the game and the experience that he has shared with the team is priceless. Some of the inputs that he gave us, I have not received from any coach so far. (VR) Raghunath, Rupinder (Pal Singh) and I have learnt a lot in the last two weeks.

“Our level has improved and we can’t wait to see ourselves in real-match situations. It’s really nice that we are also drag-flicking well together and we hope to do our best in the next 10 days.”

While the Indians have played some good attacking game in the recent past, they have in turn exposed their defence big time, especially during dying moments. “If a defender is pressing forward then a midfielder or winger should take his position. We have worked on these errors and hope not to repeat them.”

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