Oltmans dons the coaching role again as India gear up for Champions Trophy

Oltmans dons the coaching role again as India gear up for Champions Trophy

For the second time during his stint with Indian hockey, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans has donned the hat of a coach.

This time he was needed to step in following the sudden exit of coach Terry Walsh. The Dutch has busied himself in setting the house in order and stressed his immediate focus is to prepare the team for the all-important Champions Trophy.

 “I have done that before as you know in 2013 Asia Cup, it is not the great thing at this moment but we have to look forward and prepare as good as possible for Champions Trophy. It is an important tournament and there are high expectations, the boys are looking to produce a fantastic performance again in 2014,” Oltmans said, after the team for the Champions Trophy was named on Monday.

“The morale of the team is good. We know there are distractions everywhere in every process. You can see the boys are training hard, they are eager to learn and open for suggestions.”

Oltmans, though, wouldn’t speak much on the absence of Walsh or his successor. He maintained his focus on the issues outside the hockey pitch would be shifted once the Champions Trophy, scheduled in Bhubaneswar from December 6-14, was over.

"At this moment that is not something that keeps me busy. Right now I need all my energy to focus on the job at hand and ensure the team performs well in the Champions Trophy. Straight after Champions Trophy that (selection of coach) will be my concern,” he said.

With the inclusion of Gurjinder Singh, India face the problem of plenty in dragflickers. Oltmans was full of praise for the youngster. “Gurjinder deserves a spot in the team. You can see in his test results how he has improved in the last one year. For us it's only a positive that we now have three dragflickers.”

 The Dutchman also reposed his faith on the young forward line. "I am not concerned about finishing because I know all of these boys can finish. (S V) Sunil is in very good shape at the moment, it is like he starting his career all over again. Nikkin (Thimmaiah) can score goals and so can Akashdeep and Lalit. In the Australia tour we scored more field goals than penalty corners," he said.

Sardar Singh, who has been retained skipper, said they were following Walsh's schedule. “The year has been pretty good for Indian hockey and we like to finish on a high," he said.“We all know Walsh was a good coach but his issue can only be decided by Hockey India and SAI. But we are following his training schedule. Oltmans and other coaches have not made much changes in our schedule."


The squad: Goalkeepers: P R Sreejesh; Harjot Singh. Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, V R Rag­hunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Sin­gh, Gurbaj Singh, Gurjinder Singh. Mi­d­fielders: Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Danish Mujt­aba, S K Uthappa. Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, S V Sunil, Akash­deep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Lalit Upadhyay.

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