Walsh targets gold at Asiad

Walsh targets gold at Asiad

Hockey chief coach Terry Walsh is satisfied with the progress his boys have shown and does not hesitate to term the Indian hockey team as a medal prospect, even for gold, in the forthcoming Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

India finished with a silver medal in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, and Walsh believes his wards’ performance in Glasgow has made them the favourites in the September 19-October 4 event.

 “We certainly should be regarded as one of the teams with a medal prospect in the Asian Games but we have to earn that. Yes, we would think so that we would be the favourites, that would be a fair and reasonable assessment but that doesn't mean anything as we have seen in the past,” Walsh told reporters at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Thursday. “We are improving, there is no doubt about it. We are getting to a better place where we can expect results against teams outside top-4 in the world and that is a very good place for us to be. But we have quite a bit of work to do before taking on the top teams in the world.

“We need to work on a lot of areas for that. Like we need to create opportunities for corners and converting them and at the same time not carelessly concede corners.”India’s Asia Games’ record, however, boast of only two gold medals in hockey, that came in 1966 and 1998. 

They have been runners-up nine times, including the 2002 Busan Games, which was the last time India won a medal in the mega event, losing to South Korea, who had also beaten them in 1994 final in Hiroshima. On seven other occasions, it was Pakistan that has stood between India’s gold quest.

And as luck would have it, eight-time champions Pakistan, also the defending champions, are placed in India’s Group B which also has China, Oman and Sri Lanka. Walsh, however, didn’t sound overly concerned. “If there is any pressure, that would be on a team that has not played at this level for 12 months or so. 

“They have a bunch of younger guys who haven't had a lot of international experience at this level. But there is always the historical and traditional pressure with India and Pakistan just like Germany and Holland and Australia and New Zealand.

“Having said that, the pool is not as easy as it looks. China are a good side, they can play well and we all know Pakistan is a very, very good team. Not for one moment can we think that we are automatic qualifier from this pool.”

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