Pakistan main threat in hockey: Tirkey

The Indian hockey captain has labelled Pakistan as the main threat in Group B in which both teams have been clubbed together for the Commonwealth Games.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 20:39 IST

India's hockey captain Ignace Tirkey has labelled Pakistan as the main threat in Group B in which both teams have been clubbed together for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne from March 15.

"Pakistan have a strong team and will be the main threat to us in our group. Apart from them, we will also have to watch out for Malaysia and South Africa," Tirkey told IANS.

"We will especially have to be wary of South Africa, they gave us a tough fight in the Olympics last time."

India has been clubbed together with Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in Group B while Group A consists of Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and Scotland.

India begins their campaign against Malaysia March 17 followed by an encounter against sporting archrivals Pakistan the next day. They then clash with Trinidad and Tobago March 20 before their last group clash against South Africa March 22.

Calling the six-match series against Pakistan that India lost last month a good experience, Tirkey said it allowed the new youngsters to have a look and the team to try various options.

"The series against Pakistan was good as it gave us the chance to play in our traditional style. It was a good experience for the newcomers and since there was no pressure of it being a knockout tournament, we could make mistakes and learn from them," he said.

"We hope to eliminate those mistakes which we tended to make, especially in the first halves of play. We will have to concentrate harder."

Asked about the team's strategy and his first outing as captain in a major tournament, Tirkey said India would continue to play attacking hockey.

"We will continue to play attacking hockey as that is the only way we know to play. I know this is my first major tournament as captain but I am not nervous," he offered.

"My main job will be to motivate the boys and work out strategy with them under the coach. They will also look up to me on the field so I will have to be at my best."

Queried on whether he was satisfied with the team's preparations for the event, Tirkey said he was happy with all the match practice, which he feels is better than just camps.

"The month-long Premier Hockey League and the six matches against Pakistan was good enough preparation as they have made our team match ready. This kind of preparation keeps one sharper than training camps," he said.

Tirkey also called for individual members in the team to take up responsibilities and stick by them for an improved performance and to overcome issues related to finishing off moves.

"Old problems like finishing still exist and they will not disappear overnight. The boys should take up responsibility for their play and we should improve our finishing and marking in the midfield," he said.

"We should also try to curb our tendency to dribble too much and look to pass more often. This has often been our undoing as people find it difficult to shed the old habit of dribbling— this is what they have grown up with."

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 20:39 IST