Men’s hockey coach, Michael Nobbs, is confident of winning a ticket to London in the forthcoming Olympic qualification tournament, which begins at the National Stadium from February 18. “We stand a good chance,” said Nobbs, a day after the squad was pruned to 18 members and four standbys.
Minor problems like holding on to the ball for too long would be addressed in the coming days. “I have a small group of players and it will be easier to give individual attention,” he said. On dropping some senior players from the squad, Nobbs said, “Certain decisions are hard but the aim is to bring the team to the world level.”
Lakra to lead women’s team
A day after the men’s team was selected, Hockey India (HI) announced that Asunta Lakra will lead an 18-member women’s squad in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada, Italy, Poland, South Africa and Ukraine are the other teams in the fray. Chief coach, CR Kumar, said, “We have picked the best possible team.”
On the buildup, the coach said the focus would be on match temperament. “We plan to play at least four practice matches with local boys’ teams to make the girls learn finer tactical points,” he said. The team will also play a couple of practice matches with Canada, who are supposed to arrive on February 14. The duration of the matches will be less than 70-minutes.
Hero to sponsor Olympic qualifiers
Hero MotoCorp will be the title sponsors for the men’s and women’s events. The Hero FIH Road to London is the first of the three-leg Olympic qualifying events for the London Games. FIH president, Leandro Negre, said: “It’s a crucial chance for India to qualify for London and I’m sure the Indian team and hockey fans everywhere also welcome their support.” The tournament, to be aired on Ten Sports, will be broadcast live in India and across 80 countries.