'No climbing down from intensity'

Even as Indian hockey players soaked themselves in redemption victory after qualifying for the Olympics after eight long years, coach Michael Nobbs sought to bring some balance, saying that going to London is just a start.

The team, which had been under tremendous pressure after failing to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 80 years in 2008 Beijing Games, beat France 8-1 in the final to win the qualifying tournament in front of an adulating home crowd.

“Whatever we said before the tournament, we have done exactly that,” an ecstatic Nobbs told the media. “It has been very stressful. Even though we prepared the best we could, there is always a possibility of something we have not thought about. So the win is really satisfying. It means we prepared really well.”

The Australian said the team will have a couple of days rest and after which it will be business as usual for the boys. “After couple of days, we will be back to working on the fitness and practicing with high intensity. We want to maintain the ruthless approach and there is no way we are climbing down from high intensity play.”

Nobbs hoped the win will earn the side their due recognition. “It was a really important tournament for us. We had to change the style and show the public that we are worthy of admiration. It is a bunch of happy and confident players with no infighting,” he said.

Praising the support staff, Nobbs said: “As a coach you need the support staff, you can’t do everything. It was a great team effort.”

Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who slammed five goals including a hat-trick, called Nobbs the best coach he has worked with. “The first goal brought in the momentum and my confidence just grew. 

Perhaps, it is one of the best matches I’ve played. To win  8-1 in the final speaks a lot about the confidence and form of the  team,” Sandeep said. “Nobbs is the best coach I have worked with. He takes the burden on himself and hardly puts it on the players.”

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