India may have clinched its first medal in 33 years at a major FIH tournament — a bronze medal at the recent Hockey World League (HWL) Final with a good performance in the tournament's knockout stage, but national coach Roelant Oltmans has urged his wards to raise their game for the Rio Olympics (August 5-21).
While the HWL Final saw most of the elite teams of the world compete, teams like Australia, the Netherlands and Great Britain had brought second-string teams.
"I'm sure the standards will be higher there (at the Rio Games). Our competitors will be at a higher level so we should be at a higher level as well to stand a chance. We really have to work hard.
"One thing I'm convinced is that now that our players have seen that they have an opportunity to win, they will work even harder than before. That is what happens after winning a medal after such a long time.
"The boys will be even more eager. The medal will give the players the belief that they can compete with the best teams in the world. That's very important for our mindset," Oltmans told mid-day over the phone yesterday.
One of the biggest issues that Oltmans wants to work on before the 2016 Games is the team's inconsistency and inadequate ball possession.
Culture of inconsistency
"The question is whether we will be able to achieve consistency, because it is part of the Indian culture. Inconsistency sometimes helps as you saw in some of the matches at on Raipur. We'll work on certain aspects of the game like controlling the game a little bit longer. It's difficult nowadays to control a game because it's such a fast game with so many counter attacks.
I feel that we need to control the game a little bit more specially when we are in possession," the Dutchman added.
As Oltmans now has a large pool of players to choose from for the Olympic squad, he has asked players on the fringe to prove their worth for an Olympic berth during the upcoming Hockey India League (HIL), which will be held from January 21 to February 21.
"We will take the best 16 players to the Olympics. People who are not in our squad, they have to perform well in HIL to show that they are really deserving to make the Olympics team. For them it's a kind of selection tournament. It's up to the players themselves to show they are in the right state before the Olympics," Oltmans signed off.