For everyone else, the Indian men’s hockey team lost their opening match of the London Olympics 2012 against Netherlands 3-2 on Monday. But for me, they played very good hockey and nearly pulled off what would have been a stunning upset!
Few would have expected anything less than a 0-4 or 0-5 drubbing, considering the World no 3 Netherlands are a powerhouse in world hockey and India is a lowly No 10.
However, under chief coach Michael Nobbs this team has shown that they are well prepared for the Games and are all set to live up to their coach’s comment: “The best from the Indian team is yet to come.”
Captain and custodian Bharat Chetri was at his best. He effected a couple of good close saves in the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately drag-flicker V R Raghunath failed to capitalise on India’s first penalty corner in the early minutes of the first half (star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was on the bench at the time).
The second half saw a spirited show from the Indians and if only they would have played the first half like they did in the second, the result would have been different, Dharamvir Singh and Shivender Singh will have done their confidence a world of good having gotten their names onto the scoresheet early in the tournament.
The Indians definitely looked fit throughout the match and credit for this must go to physio David John. The fact that we made a comeback from a 0-2 deficit shows that all those hours David has put behind each player, has worked wonders.
Need more aggression
The Indian forwardline needs to be a little more aggressive from now on. If quicker players like Shivendra, Tushar Khandker, and SV Sunil use both flanks to attack more chances can be created. More penalty corners may also be created in this manner and Sandeep can then deliver the goods.
Today’s match against New Zealand can serve as the perfect platform for this Indian team to bounce back into the tournament. We have played them in recent times and I’m sure we can definitely beat them. This will be the first step in our bid to reach the semi-finals of the London Olympics.
Yuvraj Walmiki is an India striker, who missed out on the London Games due to injury