Two comprehensive victories on the trot in the Olympic Qualifiers brought a big smile on the face of the men's chief coach Michael Nobbs at the National Stadium on Sunday.
After routing Singapore in the opening match on Saturday, Italy was India's next victim on Sunday. Compared to the opening match, India had to exert more to score a win and Nobbs admitted this fact. "It was a little tough today," he said. Nobbs is expecting tougher encounters in the remaining three matches but he assured the boys would be up to the task. "The boys could have played for another 20 minutes, so you can imagine their fitness levels now," he said, adding, "Technique-wise, today's game was better than yesterday's as we were playing a better team."
Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh opened the floodgates in the fourth minute and again exposed the chinks in the rival team's armour in the 22nd and 23rd minutes. In between, VR Raghunath and Sarvanjit Singh score one goal each.
The goals reflected India's preparedness and Italy's plight as the hosts slammed in half-a-dozen goals before the change of ends. The only consolation for Italy came in the 17th minute when Andrea Corsi put one past goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
The lesson learnt in the first half was the reason for Italy conceding just two goals in the second session.
Apart from bolstering India's chance to clinch an Olympic ticket, Sunday's game also gave enough opportunity to the forwards to test their skills inside the circle. "We want more players to come upfront and score. It will help us rotate players and not depend on a small pool of players to move the scoreboard," Nobbs said of his game plan, adding, "We are trying to assess our opponents and prepare against each team with certain variations."
On resting goalkeeper Bharat Chettri for today's match, he said, "We will keep rotating goalkeepers because both of them are good."