Come Wednesday and Michael Nobbs, the India men's hockey coach, will face a stern test. The Aussie will have a significant say in the selection of the Olympic squad (of 16 players) during the trials scheduled on June 6-7 in Pune.
"It will be one of the toughest things in my life.
Everyone wants to be in the team for the London Olympics but we can choose only 16," Nobbs told HT on his return from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, where his wards won the bronze.
A 10-day training camp will be held in Pune before the team's departure to France, followed by a tour of Spain. This will be the last camp ahead of the Olympics as the team will reach London after the Spain tour.
Nobbs expressed satisfaction over the team's defence but emphasised on the need to work upfront. "We need to work on our attack. Against Argentina, we reached the circle 44 times but we blew up opportunities. We've got to get better. When you play top teams, if you don't hit the ball, you are not going to win," he added.
Less match practice
Despite several tours ahead of the mega event, Nobbs feels India are short on match practice, especially against the tough teams. "I would like to play against Germany, Holland and Australia more. If you want to be the best team at some point of time, you need to play against the best teams. You only learn by losing occasionally."
The coach is also getting used to the thunderous response the team gets every time they script history.
"It's crazy but we received the same appreciation after beating arch-rivals Pakistan via tie-breaker in the Asian Champions Trophy and winning a berth in the Olympics during the Qualifiers," said Nobbs.