India can make history: Oltmans

High-Performance director-cum-coach Roelant Oltmans says Sardar Singh & Co can clinch maiden Champions Trophy title as hosts take on Pakistan in high-voltage semi-final today

Bhubaneswar: High-Performance director Roelant Oltmans feels Indian hockey team is on the cusp of making history but said to achieve that Sardar Singh and Co will have to give their 100 per cent against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy semi-finals today.

Team India practice on the eve of their mouth-watering clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy semi-finals at the Kalinga Stadium
Team India practice on the eve of their mouth-watering clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy semi-finals at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. Pic/PTI.

Since the tournament’s inception in 1978, India has managed to win just one medal — bronze in 1982 edition in Amstelveen, the Netherlands and Oltmans said his side has come 75 per cent close to the podium.

Roelant Oltmans
Roelant Oltmans

“Of course we are happy (with our performance) but when you are close to getting more, every sportsman will try to get more out of it. There is now 75 per cent chance to win a medal. In the history of the Champions Trophy that happened once. So this team can write history and that’s what they are looking for,” Oltmans said on the eve of the high-voltage encounter at the Kalinga Stadium.

Execution will be the key
The Dutchman, who is doubling up as a coach in this tournament after Terry Walsh’s exit, said to register their name in record books India need to execute their plans today.

“Pakistan has showed against Holland that they can play very good hockey and there is no doubt about it. It is up to us to find the strategy that will allow us to get a good result, a result which we are looking for. It’s always about details and if we can execute our strategy we have a serious chance. But we have to give 100 per cent, Oltmans said.

He rejected that his team will be under pressure today, but said Indian players should do away with emotions before the match, which is a common feature in any Indo-Pak encounter.

‘No pressure’
“I never feel pressure and likewise my team doesn’t feel pressure. We are here to improve ourself, we are here to show the world that we are coming closer to the top. I think we showed that already. We enjoy what we are doing,” Oltmans said.

“For me it’s the same. It’s a one of match in the tournament and that’s the way you have to approach. History doesn’t work. (But) we have to get our strategic execution right instead of emotional execution,” he said.

Oltmans said he is never a satisfied man and wants more from his players. “There is always scope for improvement. The moment you think you are there, you better stop. But to be among the top four in this world level is sure an achievement compared to all the other achievements we have done this year,” he said.

Live on TV:
. India vs Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, 19:30
. Australia vs Germany, 1st semi-final, 17:15
. England vs Argentina, 5th-8th spot, 13:45
. Belgium vs Netherlands, 5th-8th spot, 11:30

FIH Champions Trophy: Pakistan to unleash 9-11 attack on India

Bhubaneswar: Aiming to outwit India in the Champions Trophy semi-finals, the Pakistan hockey team has devised a controversially-titled 9-11 strategy which they plan to unleash here today. "We will go with our 9-11 strategy against India tomorrow," Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh said, expecting some raised eye brows.

"Wait, don't misunderstand me it's not that 9-11 which you are thinking. It's a strategy that we have adopted. By 9-11 I mean we will attack with nine players leaving behind two at the back and defend with 11 players. So I call it 9-11," he explained. 9-11 is usually referred to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on Sept 11, 2001.

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