Updated: August 3, 2021 11:02:23 pm
V Baskaran, 70, led the India hockey men’s team which won the gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Games. Four decades later as the Indian men and women teams are on the cusp of making history in the 2020 Tokyo Games, Baskaran shares his thoughts on whether the current batch can emulate his team’s feat. The last time Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games in 1964, it was the men’s team who brought home the yellow metal.
When asked about the chances of the Indian teams in the semifinals on Wednesday, Baskaran observed that both India and Argentina are on equal footing but the girls in blue can definitely beat their opponents.
On Rani Rampal-led Indian women’s team, Baskaran felt that they can only get better after the historic win against Australia, the three-time Olympic and two-time World champions.
Just raw, sheer emotions. 🥺❤️
— #Tokyo2020 for India (@Tokyo2020hi) August 2, 2021
“The women’s team played an enterprising game. They played a much much better brand game against Australia. They should not think of Argentina as a big team, then they can do an encore as it will be a big match,” he said.
According to Baskaran, the Indians looked mentally fit in Tokyo but explained that pressure will be the same for both sides.
“I saw Argentines were watching the India-Australia match from the gallery. That itself is a sign that they are under pressure. Good for India. But we should be equally challenging in every quarter.
“Hockey is all about playing best all through and Indians will get more rest. The team which commits minimum errors will make it,” Baskaran signed off.
“Belgium have been a set team for the past five years. They were World champions in 2018 and a very consistent as a unit in the European circle,” Baskaran told indanexpress.com on the eve of the men’s semifinal match.
Baskaran, who played in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, has also featured in the Indian team which participated in two World Cups of 1973 and 1978. As a coach, he trained the Indian juniors and helped India A win the Pan-American Cup in 1995 and reach the 1997 World Cup final.
“Indians have developed fitness, they are good in penalty corners, equally good in defence too. Except for the 1-7 loss against Australia and in the third quarter against Great Britain during the quarterfinals, we have done well,” said Baskaran, who was the national coach of the senior team which won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and coach of the team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
At the 2016 Rio Games, India was ousted by Belgium in the quarterfinals. After that loss, India have played Belgium 16 times, won 6, drawn 4, lost 6, scored 34 & conceded 32 goals.
“I think we’re prepared for Belgium too. It will be a good match and the chances are 50-50 chances for both. A team which makes less number of errors and who will convert even the half chances will be in the final,” he added.
“Don’t panic. Remember we are only one match away to enter the final,” he reminded the Indian men’s team.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.