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'Indian hockey can gain Olympic berth'

Indian hockey chief coach feels confident with the team being placed in the rather easier of the three groupings.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2007 20:00 IST

Chances of India making the men's hockey event of the 2008 Bejing Olympics has brightened with the team being placed in the rather easier of the three groupings for the qualifiers for the quadrennial event and Chief Coach Joaquim Carvalho is brimming with confidence of fulfilling his goal.

Going by the strength of the six teams in fray for the qualifying tournament to be held in Santiago (Chile) from March 1 to 9, 2008, India, ranked 8th in the world, has to get past England (9th), the strongest rival in their group to make sure of their berth in the Olympics.

Eight-time Olympic champions India capped their fine run of two bronze medal finishes (Azlan Shah Cup and Champions Challenge) this year with the superlative performance to retain the Asia Cup earlier this month in Chennai, defeating Asian Games Champions Korea in the final.

"I am vindicated now. The improvement in the performance of the boys is evident from the three tournaments," he told PTI.

"Podium finishes in these events has put us in good stead. I always insisted that we need to play to our potential and not count on the mistakes of the rival teams," he said.

"Our main goal in the immediate future is to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Our team has the talent and potential and if we perform to our abilities, we can beat England, the strongest team compared to Chile, Egypt, Austria and Bangladesh," he said while underlining the fact that India had beaten England twice in the recent past.