Former hockey players warn about complacency

Former hockey players warn about complacency

Hockey Olympians today praised the men's team for qualifying in the London Olympics, but said the players should not get complacent, as the real target was yet to be achieved.

"We have played well. The boys deserve all the praise, but at the same time we should not forget the level of the teams in the qualifiers," Balbir Singh Sr told PTI.

"Even though, victory margins against the opponents have been convincing in the qualifiers we should not get complacent at this stage," said the Chandigarh-based Olympian.

The 87-year-old added, though the rate of penalty corner conversion has improved there was still scope for improvement in the team's defence.

"We should also work on scoring field goals, because in the Olympics, there are teams who will be very good in this area too...I must say that even teams like Poland and Canada gave tough fight in the qualifiers and at one stage, I got really worried," the veteran pointed out.

India yesterday thrashed France 8-1 in the final of the qualification tournament at Delhi to book a berth in this year's London Olympics after missing out the Beijing Games in 2008.

Former star player Gagan Ajit Singh said, "the real victory is yet to come."

"We have qualified and we must celebrate, there is nothing wrong in that, but we must now work on our weaknesses like sprucing up our deep defence.

"We should forget (yesterday's) victory now and work hard in training sessions and remain focused, which is to win Olympic gold," Gagan said.

Balbir Sr, meanwhile, hailed penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh, saying he was definitely the team's trump card.

"The team is improving. We are now playing attacking hockey, which is good. I feel this is the best form of defence and puts the opponents under pressure. But we have to balance it out," he said.

Praising team's Australian coach Michael Nobbs, he said, "The team has definitely improved under him. But at the same time we must also lay attention to our own coaches, who are equally good."

"We must update our own coaches and not ignore them if we are to spread and revive the interest of this game among the youth," the veteran, who was India's coach-manager in the first edition of the World Cup in 1971, added.