Insisting that they were not happy with the result at the Olympics, chief coach Roelant Oltmans said the team is now focusing on bringing more variations in the midfield and working out the structure of the forward line.
The Indian team for next month’s Asian Champions Trophy will be selected on Friday in Bangalore, with the position of some of the senior players in doubt. It is speculated that the likes of Sardar Singh, Ramandeep Singh and a few others might be rested for the tournament. However, some of the players being called for the preparations for the junior World Cup, it remains to be seen whether the selectors have enough options to replace them.
India will take part in two more tournaments this year. After the Asian Champions Trophy, where they will meet arch-rivals Pakistan, they will embark on a tour to Australia in November. The calendar is packed for the junior team, though. They will take part in multiple tournaments in the next two months before the team for the junior World Cup will be finalised. The junior World Cup is scheduled to be held in Lucknow from December 8 to 18.
Oltmans said the men’s team is high on confidence after their performance at the Olympics, assured that they are on par with rest of the world. “The mood in the team is very good and the players have moved on from their quarterfinal loss against Belgium,” said Oltmans, who is also the high performance director, said. “They don’t have bitter feelings about the Olympics because now they know they are on par with top teams in the world and they are often complimented by hockey lovers not just from India but around the globe for how they played at the Olympics. Though we were not happy with the result.”
The selection trials to pick the team for Asian Champions Trophy and Australia Tour will be held on Friday at the SAI, South Centre, in Bengaluru. They will also be put through a rigorous fitness test. “For the senior team they have a busy schedule with the Asian Champions Trophy and Australia Tour then the Coal India Hockey India League, where as the juniors will play in the Australian Hockey League, Spain 4-Nations Tournament and then the Uttar Pradesh FIH Junior Men World Cup in Lucknow in December,” said Oltmans. “It’s only in March that we will look at having a strong pool of probables which will have quite a few junior players who can be potential players for the 2020 Olympics and even the World Cup in 2018,” he added.
Oltmans will join the junior team for the Australian Hockey League (AHL), starting September 29, and in his absence, the camp will be spearheaded by fellow Dutchman and Strategic Coach Roger van Gent who will be assisted by Tushar Khandker. “The focus during this month-long camp will be to bring about variations in the midfield and forward line structure. Of course fitness too will be a priority,” Oltmans said. “We have shown in the past one year that we are as good as any other top team in the world but we need to bring in consistency and create results that are in our favour. That’s the key and we need to work on it,” he added.