The Olympic qualification tournament is a week away, and if body language is an indication, the India men's hockey team is oozing with confidence. An obvious reason could be the specific drills carried out over the past week to minimise the scope of error during the big event, which begins at the National Stadium from February 18.
Chief national coach, Michael Nobbs, says the players have shown marked improvement during practice. "It has contributed to the morale of the team," said Nobbs on the fewer errors committed during recent training sessions.
Apart from hard training, a relatively easy group, as compared to four years ago, could be another cause for excitement. "There is no reason why we shouldn't get a passage to London," said the Australian, who took over the reins of the national squad in September.
India are placed with Singapore, Italy, Canada, France and Poland in the qualification tournament.
To support Nobbs and his boys, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has roped in a Chennai-based sports mechanics company to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the participating teams during the February 18-26 event.
According to SAI director general, Desh Deepak Verma, video recording of matches would help the hosts understand their rivals' strategy, and work accordingly.
Nobbs also expressed satisfaction over the way VR Raghunath had shed flab in a week's time. "He is faster on the ground now. It is good sign," said Nobbs.
According to him, the other players too are in good shape. "Gym work and specific regimen has been quite beneficial," said Nobbs. The coach has also made some changes in the menu of the team. "There is a balance between carbo/protein intake,"