The countdown to the Olympic Qualifiers, scheduled in the Capital from February 18, has begun, but the women's hockey coach, CR Kumar, is yet to find 18 fit players from a pool 45 probables who would carry the country's hopes.
Spotting the final squad, says Kumar, will be done during the four-match series against Azerbaijan starting January 15. "We want to give all the players a chance," the coach said after a friendly match with the Azerbaijan team on Thursday.
"Right now, my job is to get some of the experienced players in the camp back in shape, as we can't depend too much on young blood to shoulder the responsibility during the qualifying event."
Coach plays it down
But with time running out, fitness issues have cropped up, which is a worrying factor for the team management. The chief coach, however, played it down, saying, there is still time at hand.
"Don't go by the slow-pace friendly contest today. The players didn't push hard," he said, hinting at a better performance in the four-match series.
Though the chief coach defended the players on Thursday, the real test lies ahead.
With four weeks left for the main event, the buzzword in the camp is, will the players rise to the occasion?
India's ace midfielder Gurbaj Singh hurt his right knee while during a training session on Wednesday.
'Injury not serious'
Gurbaj has been ruled out of the five-match series against South Africa beginning January 16 in the Capital, and the Olympic qualifying tournament.
The injury, according to the team management, isn't serious, but it would take a minimum of three weeks to heal.