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The pressure is on our rivals: Rajinder
August 14, 2003 20:13 IST
India will be banking on their traditional attacking style of play to achieve a few "long-standing goals" during the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, starting in Amstelveen on Saturday, says team coach Rajinder Singh.
"We've had a good build-up to the Champions Trophy and it makes me confident of being on the road to achieving some long-time goals," said Rajinder as his players geared up to face the Netherlands in their opening match on the first day of the competition in the Wagener stadium.
Though India have won the Olympic hockey gold eight times and the World Cup once, they have a miserable record in the Champions Trophy. Their best performance in the elite six-nation tournament in nine appearancs was in 1982, in Amsterdam, where they finished third.
After taking charge of the team last year, Rajinder made an immediate impact, though India just missed out on a medal in last year's Champions Trophy in Cologne, losing to Pakistan in the bronze medal play-off.
"I was disappointed when we did not finish among the medals last year. Hopefully, we'll make that grade this time."
He said he is pleased at the way the team has prepared for the tournament.
"We still have a long way to go, but the Champions Trophy could be a crucial part in the Indian team's revival," he said.
Rajinder said though the back-to-back wins in Sydney and Hamburg have increased expectations of hockey lovers back home, his side is under no pressure.
"There's no pressure on us, but our good performances have sure put some pressure on our rivals. The opponents will have to take us seriously.
"We're working towards the Olympic Games. The focus is on Athens 2004, and the Champions Trophy is the first stiff test in the run-up to the Olympics," he said.
The chief coach also admitted the side needs to improve in some areas and be a bit more aggressive to match the best in the world.
"We have improved in penalty-corner conversions but the field goal scoring needs to be worked on.
"We must also strengthen our mid-field. We need to be more aggressive to match the European teams," he said.
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