Winning Olympic qualifiers will be tough, says Nobbs

Asian Champions Trophy victory notwithstanding, winning the Olympic qualifiers is a realistically tough task, says India hockey coach Nobbs

India hockey coach Michael Nobbs yesterday said the eight-time Olympic champions will have a tough time qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics. The Australian, who coached India to a win in the Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China in his first assignment with the national team, said he will try his best to help the team qualify for the London Games but has set his sights on a podium finish in the 2016 Olympics at Rio De Janeiro.

Champs: India hockey captain Rajpal Singh (left), sports minister Ajay
Maken and coach Michael Nobbs during a felicitation function in New
Delhi yesterday.

India missed the 2008 Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years. "The team is on the right track but it is just the start. We are thrilled and excited. Actually few believed we could win the final against Pakistan. Qualifying for the London Olympics is a realistically difficult task. All teams have been preparing for the last six years but we will surely give our best. My target is to make a podium finish in the 2016 Olympics," said Nobbs during the team's felicitation at the National Stadium here. Nobbs said Indian hockey team still has a long way to go.

"This is just the start. We have to keep our feet grounded. We had six rookies in the team and they performed extremely well. I am happy with the basics of our players but have to improve the fitness of the team. I will try out other young players as well and I want to create a large pool of players," said Nobbs. The coach was happy with the attitude of the young India squad. The team defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 via tie-breaker in the final. "I told the players to be brave and not to worry about the result. That helped."

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