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India can reach the pinnacle: Rach
August 09, 2004 18:46 IST
Indian hockey team's coach Gerhard Rach said the team had the wherewithal to emerge as one of the top teams in the world by regaining Olympic glory.
"Like Brazil in soccer, India's place is at number one in hockey," Rach said after the team's arrival in Athens from Germany, where it attended a training-cum-competition programme.
The squad, led by Dilip Tirkey, had an air of confidence around them after completing the 21-day final phase training camp at the RTHC Sports complex at Leverkusen, near Dusseldorf, on Sunday.
During this camp, India played practice games with various German clubs, besides winning a three-match Test series against Ireland.
Rach said he was getting good support from all the players and support staff in the team, which he said was capable of winning the Olympic title.
"I have had wholehearted support from all the players and the coaching staff. This is a fine blend, capable of reaching the pinnacle," the 56-year-old Munich-born coach said.
Rach's assistant Oliver Kurtz, member of the gold medal winning team at the Barcelona Olympics, warned the opposition camps against taking the side lightly despite some unimpressive performance in recent times.
"Don't underestimate these fellows," he said.
Kurtz, who has been with the team since the training in Arizona, United States, added that the team hoped to peak in the competition after their final fine-tuning.
Frank Leictre, who is also here but will not be part of the Indian Olympic team, said he had given intense training to the two goalkeepers Devesh Chauhan and Adrian D'Souza.
"The focus was on technical aspects emphasising on body movements and corner rebounds apart from ample practice with the ball machines," he said.
In the Olympics, India have been pitted in Pool B which also includes holders Holland, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.