'Important to keep emotions in check'

For a cricket or a hockey fan in the country, nothing beats a battle against Pakistan. On Saturday, the two will lock horns in the semifinals of the FIH Champions Trophy and India’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans said it’s important his team keeps emotions in check.

“Pakistan showed against Holland that they can play very good hockey and there’s no doubt about that,” said Oltmans after the practice session on Friday. “It’s up to us to find a strategy to get a good result. It’s always about details and how well we can execute them. We have to be 100 per cent. We have to be very good in our strategic execution rather than our emotional execution.”

Pressure factor
Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh, in his pre-match press conference, felt the pressure will be on India but Oltmans thought otherwise. “I never feel pressure and I make sure my team also doesn’t feel the pressure.

“We are here to improve ourselves and show that we are getting closer to the top teams in the world. I think we have showed that already and everything we get out of this tournament will be a bonus for us.”

India has enjoyed a rare productive year having won two major medals already – Commonwealth Games silver and Asian Games gold – and stand on the brink of achieving another.

Oltmans felt there is still plenty to improve. “There is always scope for improvement. The moment you think you are there, you better stop. But to be among the top-4 in this event is sure an achievement compared to all the other achievements we have done this year.

“Of course we are happy but when you are close to getting at the top level, more sportsmen will try to get more out of it. There is now 75 per cent chance to win a medal. India has just won one (bronze) medal the history of the Champions Trophy. So, this team can write history and that’s what they are looking for.”
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Meanwhile, Sheikh felt India and Pakistan have to revive their friendship series if both want to improve.

“India and Pakistan playing in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy is good for world hockey.

“I want the federations of both India and Pakistan to revive the friendly series. If we don’t promote our own game, who else will? We need to support each other.”
DH News Service

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