Call it over confidence or complacency, India captain Bharat Chetri on Thursday made it amply clear that he is treating the Olympic qualifying matches against minnows Singapore and Italy as mere "practice games" ahead of tough opponents like France and Canada.
Asked whether lack of practice matches would be an impediment ahead of the tournament, Chetri didn't seem to be on the same page with coach Michael Nobbs.
"Singapore and Italy will be our practice matches," the skipper answered with a lot of swagger during the media interaction at the National Stadium here today.
India captain Bharat Chetri.
India will play the opening match against Singapore followed by their game against Italy, a day after.
His coach, Nobbs, however was a bit more tactful when asked the same question. "In my career, it has worked well either way. We would be focussing on match situations during the evening practice session under lights. We would be stressing on game situation ahead of our first match against Singapore (On February 18)," Nobbs said.
The coach informed that there aren't any injury issues and everyone is fit and available for selection. "The fitness levels are good and we are peaking at the right time. The idea is to do the routine things well."
Both Nobbs and ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh admitted that former India captain Dilip Tirkey's advice has helped the boys a lot.
"Dilip was one of the best defenders during his time and he has shared his experiences with us. Some of the inputs provided by him have been priceless. Myself, V Raghunath, we all know our roles. He has told if a defender is joining the attack, how a midfielder should subsequently come for cover," Sandeep stated.
Nobbs also credited Tirkey's stint with the national team as a move that has helped Sandeep improve as a defender. "Dilip has had a role in Sandeep's improvement. Now Sandeep also goes into the attack and has improved his control and footwork," Nobbs said.