Indian hockey coach Michael Nobbs admitted that Indians lacked fitness in the just-concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia recently.
“I was very angry after the match against New Zealand. We were playing champagne hockey on a beer budget. Those players were huge and their fitness level was there for everyone to see. We need to be on par in fitness with the top teams like Great Britain and New Zealand. For that, the boys will undergo a 10-day high altitude training in Pune after the trials on June 6 and 7,” Nobbs said.
Skipper Bharat Chetri endorsed Nobbs’ viewpoint on fitness. “It was good to play against better teams in Malaysia. The tournament helped us know our weaknesses — one of them being fitness,” said Chetri after the team’s arrival at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport late on Monday.
Chetri’s teammate and ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, however, didn’t want to pinpoint the flaws of the team.
“Technically, we have a lot to work on. The match against New Zealand was a good lesson for us. Our aim is not to forget our mistakes, but to learn from them. Now, our goal is to give off our best at the Olympics. But to achieve that, we need to work hard on fitness,” said Sandeep.
Sardar Singh, who was adjudged the player of the tournament in Malaysia, blamed the surface to some extent. “We didn’t have a great start to the tournament as we struggled to adjust to the wobbling blue surface. But we improved a lot as the tournament progressed,” added the 26-year-old midfielder.