Indian hockey team can make semifinals at Olympics: Chetri
Indian hockey team captain Bharat Chetri today said that their first target would be to make the semifinals at the London Olympics, and asserted that they had it in them to make it to the top 4.
India hockey captain Bharat Chetri today said he was confident of a semi-final berth at the London Olympics to be held between July 27 and August 12.
"I think we have a very balanced side. If we can produce 70-80 per cent of our abilities on field, then I am confident we'll be in the semifinals," Chetri told reporters here.
"Germany and Holland are a little strong, but I won't say they can beat us. They are strong, but we have also planned on how to play them. We've played some matches as well. So, we'll see."
The eight-time Olympic winners have been clubbed along with reigning champions Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Belgium and Netherlands in Pool B as two teams from each pool make the last four.
Chetri said their preparation had been thorough this time around as they were committed to erase the disappointment of missing a berth in the Beijing Olympics 2008. "This time we have done well in qualifiers as well in the Azlan Shah Cup and the Champions Trophy. Olympics is the most important assignment in front of us. We are learning and moving forward and do well as a team. We learnt a great deal in these tournaments. We are working on the mistakes we made."
Heaping praise on physical trainer David John, the Indian captain said the team's fitness has improved immensely. "We are among the fittest teams now and ready to give a good fight to our foreign opponents. Earlier the fitness level used to be around 40 per cent. Now, it's 90 per cent."
Chetri said that under Aussie coach Michael Nobbs, the team was playing a more attacking game. "He has changed our defensive style of play and we are playing more attacking games and creating more chances. We are practising hard after watching the video footage of our opponents. We have strategies which I can't discuss here," he said.
"This is the best available 16. We have not left out anyone. We've full faith on the abilities on our players. If you see our recent matches we are conceding less in penalty corners," he said.
He also praised the Indian drag-flick specialists Sandeep Singh and V R Raghunath and said they were among the best. "Sandeep converts 90 per cent of what he gets. He has Raghunath with him. So I am hopeful that we'll get 100 per cent conversions at the Olympics."