The Indian Hockey team is physically fit and mentally strong to match their opponents in the BDO Hockey World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany, feels coach V Bhaskaran.
Talking to UNI after the conclusion of the second leg of the training camp for the World Cup probables at 'SAAP Hockey Complex, Gachibowli, near here, chief coach Bhaskaran said, "Our players need not bother about their weaknesses and the strengths of their opponents in the forthcoming World Cup as they are as strong as their opponents."
Asked about the tough draw for India in Group-B he said, "the recent Champions Trophy winner Netherlands and runner-up Germany are no doubt strong. But, we cannot underestimate South Korea, England and South Africa.
Physically, the Europeans are a different race and better built, but India is also equally strong and can match them in skills and speed."
Replying to another question about the Indian tendency of conceding goals in the final minutes, he said, "Why dying moments? every minute of the play is important, our players must give them 100 per cent even in the dying moments so that control over the game is not lost. We must play positively".
Speaking about fitness he said, "To play five games in seven days, some times two games in less than 24 hours in the World Cup needs good fitness. I am happy that the IHF has recruited Aussie trainer Derek Knox, who represented Australia's Junior hockey team, has helped the team giving tips via e-mails earlier.
He is now here with the team and the team is shaping up well with the introduction of his new drills. Every one in the team is brimming with confidence. Now it is time for them to deliver in the World Cup."
"The IHF had recruited physio Ravi Kanakamedala, who has worked in New Zealand and Australian professional hockey leagues before he contacted Indian hockey officials in Perth, that brought him to India. He along with trainer Knox is helping the team on the fitness front," Baskaran added.
He said Players hailing from different parts of the country speak different languages and therefore it is better to have long camps. "It brings every one together, one understands the other better. Even as a coach it is a good thing for me. This will help them put up a good show," he explained.
After the first leg fitness camp at Bangalore, the team underwent a second leg of training in skills at Hyderabad where they played three practice matches with the local teams under flood lights.
With the camp concluding on Thursday, the team will move to Chennai tomorrow morning, where they will play a few practise matches in the form of a tournament involving the Indian Junior team, India Developmental team and Tamil Nadu's team.
They will again assemble at New Delhi on August 20 before leaving for practice matches in Europe and ultimately for the World Cup.