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Home > Sports > Hockey > PTI > Report

No favourites at World Cup: Harendra

August 03, 2006 14:39 IST

The cricketers may have hogged all the spotlight recently for their innovative fitness drills but it was the hockey team which had first experimented with the commando-style training three years ago.

Ironically, the hockey probables, currently undergoing a camp in Hyderabad in the lead up to the World Cup in September, have been going about their task quietly, without any media frenzy.

Bemused by all the talk of "new methods" and "experimentations" in the Indian cricket camp, assistant hockey coach Harendra Singh says he is unable to understand the hype as the techniques have been a regular thing for his wards.

"We started commando training way back in 2003. When we did it, it was a controversy. But now when BCCI is doing it, it is innovation. I am really surprised by this attitude," he told PTI over phone from Hyderabad.

Harendra, who had planned to go to Terrassa, Spain, to watch the top teams in action in the Champions Trophy, said although he could not make it to the tournament, he had followed the performance of the teams closely on TV.

"I could not go to Spain because my visa was delayed. Anyway, I watched the matches on TV and came to some interesting conclusions.

"The three top teams -- Holland, the eventual winners, Germany and Australia have changed their strategies. They are employing full court attack now."

"Earlier they used to concentrate on their opponent's half, but now they are playing the full 60 yards," Harendra said, adding that teams were no longer scoring goals through set pieces but through field play.

Harendra said no team would start as favourite in the World Cup, to be played from September 6 to 17 in Monchengladbach, Germany, and India would need to be on their toes against every rival.

"There are no favourites at tournaments like World Cups. Any team which plays well on a given day, will win the match. Previous form will count for little."

Harendra also did not think that Australia had suffered a slump in their form after defeats in Azlan Shah and a distant fourth-place finish in Champions Trophy.

"I don't think their form is bad. They missed some chances which was capitalised by their opposition."

The former Indian Airlines player also revealed that India would play a practice match with Japan prior to the start of the World Cup in Germany.

"As of now we would be playing one match, we are not keen on too many practice matches ahead of an important tournament."

Harendra was all praise for the team's new "exercise physiologist" from Australia Derek Cameron Knox.

"He has made the boys practice in simulated match situations. All the exercises that he has devised are aimed at improving the hockey skills of the players. He is himself a former hockey player and that has helped."

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