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September 16, 2000
No mental block against Argentina, says Bhaskaran
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
If one is to believe hockey coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran, then Argentina is not playing on Indian minds on the eve of their opening fixture in the Olympic Games hockey competition.
It was the loss to Argentina in the opening tie at Atlanta which, in the final analysis, spelt doom for India’s medal aspirations, but Bhaskaran says the team is not perturbed by the thought of another opening match against the South American side.
"We don't have a mental block about taking on Argentina first thing," said Bhaskaran, as he watched some other teams go through their first-round matches on the opening day.
"Having once paid the penalty of taking Argentina lightly four years ago, we won't repeat it," he said.
"The boys are geared up for the match and mentally conditioned for the Olympic campaign.
"The team is fully motivated, the players are confident, but not overconfident.
"Argentina should not be a major worry - - we have to look forward to other matches."
"Argentina plays a very defensive game and the first 20 minutes are going to be crucial. We shall have to see their game and adjust accordingly. If they keep withdrawn and play in their own half, we'll need to draw them out and create space."
The Indian coach said the current team needs to explore its wing play. "We'll have to look at exploring our wings," said Bhaskaran, for whom this is the sixth journey to the Olympic Games as player or official.
"I've been to all Olympics since making my debut at Montreal in 1976, but in different roles."
He knows that if the team secured a medal or any hue, the achievement won't in any way be less than that of the last gold-medal winning captain in 1980.
"I we fail to deliver we have no excuses to offer," Bhaskaran said.
"After the training stint in Murwillumbah (near Brisbane), the boys are fully adjusted to the conditions. What we must guard against is becoming casual during any match. That attitude is clearly evident in our domestic competitons."
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