Hockey World League Final: India coach urges players to believe in themselves
The win at the Asia Cup at Dhaka is just a beginning for India’s new chief coach Sjoerd Marijne, and he wants to raise the bar at the Hockey World League Final, starting Friday, by making the podium.
The Dutchman didn’t make major changes in the team when he took over from Roelant Oltmans before the Asia Cup, but made the players realize their potential. That helped the side win after 10 years.
“The Asia Cup win is just the beginning, and we are looking forward to the first match. We worked for a month for this match. The intensity will be high,” said Marijne on the eve of India’s match against world No 2 Australia.
“It’s a challenge playing Australia and that’s how we see it. Over the last one month, we worked on our fitness level. What was important was to make our structure perfect. The team is realistic and I am a realistic person. It’s good we are in one line.”
He, however, refused to comment on what happened in the past. “What happened we can’t change but what will happen we can change. We have to learn from the past to get better in future and that’s our goal,” he said, adding, “It’s about the mindset and belief. You have to believe that you can win and the team is doing that. We will have to show that on the pitch. It will not be easy but we are up for the challenge.”
“I don’t think you play not to win. We want to play good matches, we want to play better in every match and that’s our focus.”
Captain Manpreet Singh too sounded confident of the side doing well in the 10-day event. “We have a lot of youngsters and their attitude so far has been positive,” he said.
On getting ready to play his 200th match, Manpreet was excited. “It has been a long journey. I am completing my 200th international match and I’m excited it is happening in front of the home crowd,” he said, adding, “We need to avail of our chances to win. We need to convert scoring opportunities that come our way.”
Australian skipper Mark Knowles promised good hockey but accepted playing before a huge crowd (especially in India) is challenging and exciting.
“I am the senior-most player and that is something I enjoy. For me, it’s about passing on the experience of playing in front of a good crowd. I also know that as a player I have to play well. They (players) also see and listen to what I do and say.”
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- While they were busy putting in the framework to get the seventh edition up and going, they received a setback when two of the biggest manufacturers—Audi and BMW—announced their decision to pull out from the sport at the end of this season.