'Penalty corners will decide champions'

The Indian hockey team is working extra time to fine-tune the penalty corner drills ahead of the London Olympics as chief coach Michael Nobbs feels the fate of the competition will be decided by which team fires in more short corners.

“Forget the hockey, the Olympics competition here will be decided by penalty corners,” said Nobbs, aware that in Sandeep Singh he possesses a potent weapon in executing penalty corners.

“The game here will be who gets in how many penalty corners, and we obviously want to join the goal fest,” the Australian told PTI.

Nobbs said the current Indian team’s penalty corner conversion rate was normally over 50 per cent, but he is keen to improve that further.

He said penalty corner specialists Sandeep and VR Raghunath were both capable of putting the ball through the best of rivals defences.

“Our general game plan is looking good. Raghunath’s good form is allowing us to rotate him with Sandeep and make sure one of them is on the pitch at any given time,” said Nobbs.

He said this would enable Sandeep to get some time off the pitch and keep him energised for the entire duration of the tournament.

India’s ranking has slumped, but Nobbs says the current Indian team is capable of causing a few surprises here in London. “The boys are in high spirits and in good shape for the tournament. They know their responsibilty towards the team and the nation,” the coach said.

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