Currently chilling back home in Darjeeling as he is among the senior players rested for this tournament and the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy (Dec 20-27) in Qatar, Chetri has been following every second of the action on TV and is backing the young Men in Blue to go all the way at Melbourne’s State Netball Hockey Centre.
“Australia are one of the best hockey-playing nations in the world and we have always struggled to beat them. But this young side has nothing to lose. They have already conquered teams well above their World No 11 ranking here, like England (No 4), New Zealand (No 6), Belgium (No 8) and nearly held World No 1 and Olympic champions Germany too. They have nothing more to prove and I believe they can stun the Australians now,” Chetri told MiD DAY yesterday.
The team’s defence in particular, has improved by leaps and bounds, felt Chetri and that could see them go past the Kookaburras today to win India’s first Champions Trophy medal since the bronze in 1982. “We learnt a harsh lesson in London, where defensive lapses costs us dearly (India lost all six matches at the Games and finished last in the 12-team event). But this team seems to have rectified that flaw.
Goalkeeper PT Rao has done well in thwarting some power-packed drag-flicks, while defender V Raghunath is tackling hard. This defence has not conceded too many soft goals. However, they will do well today if they can seal things at the back. There have been a couple of holes in the backline that have led to opposition forwards sneaking in a goal or two. Today, they will have to pack up that defence to keep someone like Jamie Dwyer (Aussie striker) at bay,” Chetri signed off. Pakistan play Holland in the other semi-final today.