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Team eyeing semis slot at World Cup: Tirkey
July 19, 2006 18:52 IST
High on confidence after the bronze medal finish at Azlan Shah tournament in Kuala Lumpur,
Indian hockey captain Dilip Tirkey says his side is eyeing at least a semi-final berth in the forthcoming World Cup in Germany.
The veteran defender said the Azlan Shah performance lifted the morale of the team and the players are preparing in right earnest for the prestigious event, starting September 6 at Monchengladbach.
To realize the dream of reaching the semi-finals, India will have to get past two top teams -- world No 3 Germany and No 4 Holland in the league matches of Group 'B'.
England, South Africa and Korea are the other teams in Group 'B'.
Australia, Argentina, Pakistan, Spain, Japan and New Zealand form Group 'A'.
Tirkey said the team has the confidence required to take on the strong European sides.
"We know that Germany and Holland are good teams, but we have faith in our abilities. We will take it match by match," Tirkey said over phone from Bangalore, where the squad is training.
India, who will start their campaign against Germany on September 6, will reach Germany 15-20 days in advance to acclimatise to the cold weather.
Praising the young players for their fine showing in Azlan Shah tournament, Tirkey expressed hope that they would deliver the goods in Germany as well.
"Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad and Prabodh Tirkey played very well in Kuala Lumpur and the team expects a lot from them in the World Cup," he said.
"But one should not hope for miracles just on the basis of one good result. We need to get better and raise our game and the team is working hard to weed out the weaknesses," he added.
On areas that need to improve upon, the Indian Airlines player said the team must stop conceding chances in the dying minutes of the game.
"We are losing scoring opportunities in the initial moments and then coming under pressure in the final minutes. This is opening chances for the opponent to score.
"We will have to improve on these aspects in Germany, because one single mistake would spoil the party in World Cup.
"Our strikers are not able to convert many moves into goals. We will have to work on our attack. Only making good moves is not enough," he said.
Tirkey said in order to succeed in the World Cup, India will have to adopt a strategy that is a mix of European and Asian style of hockey.
"We cannot fight with the strong European teams just by playing the Asian style of hockey. We will have to adopt a mix of both the styles to achieve success."