'World League will be test of temperament'

Up against the world’s best in the Hero Hockey World League Final, India cannot afford to lose the sight of pragmatism. The home side has refrained from making any tall claims but they wish to get its measure against the top teams.

The eight-team event aims to provide the crucial FIH ranking points which can help teams get a better draw in the World Cup. India is placed in Pool ‘A’ comprising Olympic champions Germany, England, and New Zealand.

India vice-captain VR Raghunath said they were looking to play their best in the tournament. “We are trying to measure our situation, where we stand right now in top eight so that we can plan for future and improve in all the grey areas. Also we did not get big matches for a very long time after Asia Cup, so it will be a test of temperament and mental toughness,” Raghunath told reporters after the training session on Tuesday.

“We just want to play our personal best. Day and night you cannot win tournaments. We are expecting all the boys to play without any pressure and stick to the plan. We have been working on last-minute goals, tackling and forward’s conversion rates. We are not going to give any false promises. It is a building up process for the World Cup and the Asian Games,” he said. 

India opens against England and Raghunath said the team would be approaching the game with utmost seriousness. “We are concentrating on the first game. It is important to start seriously. The positive results will increase the motivational levels.”

The frequent changes in head coaches, Raghunath, believed had not hampered the progress of the team. Under new coach Terry Walsh, he said the team was working to face the European teams with confidence.

“Before the Asia Cup, we were with Roelant Oltmans. So, in a way it is a continuation with Oltmans and now Terry Walsh. We are trying to improve our level and prove ourselves that we are good against European countries. He (Walsh) is trying to get the best out of us, the quality level that we have, so that we can face the European teams with confidence.”

The squad for the competition also include players who were part of India’s dismal performance in the recently concluded Junior World Cup at home. Raghunath assured the juniors’ performance would be notches higher in the League Final. 

Meanwhile, one of the coaches of the team MK Kaushik, too, asserted that the team’s participation in the tournament is keeping in mind the World Cup in June.  “We are only trying to follow the main structure which Terry Walsh has planned.”

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