The Indian men and women’s hockey teams sashayed on the ramp in swanky at a swanky hotel in the capital, a bit edgy and nervous. But that was to be expected, as they are not in the showbiz trade. Nervousness on the turf, however, could cost them much more, given a packed schedule ahead of them.
Both teams will play the FIH Hockey World League semifinals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from June 13-23 and a 2014 World Cup spot is at stake. But the federation’s high performance director from the Netherlands, Roelant Oltmans, sounded confident when he said that, “enough homework has been done”. “Apart from collective efforts, to iron out the grey areas, emphasis has also been laid on individual training during the preparatory camp.”
But on the goalkeeping front, the master tactician conceded that concerns remain. P Sreejesh is the only goalkeeper who can be relied upon. Others lack big-match temperament. “We need to work in that area,” he said.
Oltmans, however, said the presence of three drag-flickers, including VR Raghunath and Sandeep Singh, had strengthened the team. He added: “It’s a big advantage for the team.”
In the men’s section, India is clubbed with the Netherlands in Pool B, while Ireland and New Zealand are the other two teams in fray. The Indian women’s team pool comprises of New Zealand, Germany and Belgium. The top three teams will win a berth in the 2014 World Cup. In case India miss out, they will have to win the continental title later this year.