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September 14, 2000
India to attack from start against Argentina
India have decided to attack from the very beginning in their Group B lung opener against dangerous Argentina in the Olympic hockey tournament, which will commence on September 16.
"Back home in India we tend to be casual in the opening ten minutes of a match, sizing up the opposition. (Here) I have told them they must attack from the beginning," team coach and 1980 gold medal-winning squad captain Vasudevan Bhaskaran said.
"I have told them to enter the field on a confident note," he added.
Argentina had shocked India in their opening clash four years ago at Atlanta and the Pargat Singh-led team later finished eighth, their worst-ever performance in Olympics history.
The Ramandeep Singh-led team looked very relaxed n Thursday after getting a pep talk from Bhaskaran.
"The boys are motivated. I am trying to teach them not to get tensed up for any reason," the India coach said.
Bhaskaran, a fine half back in his prime, said the decision to come to Australia very early was a big advantage as the team got ample opportunities to acclimatise.
"The training schedules were not too heavy and the boys have not become jaded from overwork," he said while wishing that the team had been able to play a few more practice matches before the Games.
"But no country was willing to play. They all want to keep their main players (away). That's why we had to play against some local club sides," the India coach pointed out.
Bhaskaran sounded happy that the team was peaking at the right time.
"They now have to sustain the form over a fortnight," he added.
He praised the stadium and the other facilities available though he too supported the view expressed by some senior players and other teams, including Pakistan, that the 'System 2000' synthetic turf on which the championship will be played is very bouncy and left a lot to be desired.
"One side of the turf is too bouncy, making trapping and taking clean hits difficult. Being new, the turf is also slippery," half back and former India captain Mohd Riaz said.
The coach said his team will have one more practice session on Saturday, after Friday's Opening ceremony, before taking on Argentina on Sunday.
"The timings for the practise session will depend on the Opening ceremony," he said adding "all the boys want to participate in the march-past. They consider it a great honour to represent the country. For them taking part in the match-past is a matter of pride."
Speaking on a much broader level on the Games, Bhaskaran said he had been to every edition of the Olympics since 1976 (Montreal), barring 1984 (Los Angeles).
"The very face and structure of the Games have undergone a massive change, particularly due to the technological revolution," he felt.
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