The Indian hockey team is working extra time to fine-tune the penalty corner drills ahead of the London Olympics as chief coach Michael Nobbs feels the fate of the competition will be decided by which team fires in more short corners.
“Forget the hockey, the Olympics competition here will be decided by penalty corners,” said Nobbs, aware that in Sandeep Singh he possesses a potent weapon in executing penalty corners.
“The game here will be who gets in how many penalty corners, and we obviously want to join the goal fest,” the Australian said. Nobbs said the current Indian team's penalty corner conversion rate was normally over 50%, but he is keen to improve that further.
He said penalty corner specialists Sandeep and V R Raghunath were both capable of putting the ball through the best of rivals defences.
“Raghunath's good form is allowing us to rotate him with Sandeep and make sure one of them is on the pitch at any given time,” said Nobbs. He said this would enable Sandeep to get some time off the pitch and keep him energised.
‘Defenders hold key’
Former hockey captain Dilip Tirkey feels the Indian defenders would hold the key when they take on Netherlands in their opening match on July 30. “We have Ignace (Tirkey) in deep defence. However, he will have to give not just his best but also inspire others to do well,” the three-time Olympian said.