Rajpal Singh, the men’s hockey captain, feels India’s silver medal at the Commonwealth Games has boosted the team’s confidence to do well in the Asian Games, which gets underway at Guangzhou from November 12.
“The CWG was a good preparatory platform and we are focussing on gold at the Asian Games, as it will give us a direct ticket of the 2012 Olympics,” Rajpal told HT on Wednesday.
“We were firm on a podium finish this time before the home crowd and the way we finished was quite encouraging,” he added.
India, who are placed in Pool B, will be up against Hong Kong in their opening match on November 15 before meeting arch-rivals Pakistan on November 20.
“Undoubtedly, Pakistan and Japan are the two challenging sides in our pool. We have a psychological advantage against Pakistan after beating them in the World Cup and CWG, but we are not taking any side lightly. We are a balanced side. The boys are doing well and we have plans for each team,” said Rajpal.
“We have been consistent at the international level and proof lies in our podium finish at the CWG, which had three teams from Asia. The Asiad will also allow us to better our position as we were fifth at the last edition in Doha,” the skipper said.
On India’s capitulation against Australia in the final, Rajpal admitted that despite dominating the proceedings for the first 15 minutes, India could not maintain the pressure.
“We earned a short corner and initiated attacks too but were unlucky. On the contrary, Australia’s efforts were on target. We went all out but I feel we were over-excited about playing the final,” said Rajpal.
“We have learnt from the CWG and will ensure that such things do not happen at the Asian Games. We are going to China with new enthusiasm and confidence and I am sure of a fine performance.”
Like the men, the women, who finished a poor fifth in Delhi, will take on Malaysia in their lung-opener on November 13. The team had won bronze at Doha.