Rio Olympics 2016: Executing all plans will be key for Indian hockey team, says Ashok Kumar
The countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympics has well and truly begun. Every team is putting their finishing touches to their Olympic preparations. The Indian senior men’s hockey team is straining every nerve at its ongoing camp at the SAI South Centre in Bengaluru.
It’s a ‘given’ that top teams like world champions Australia, Olympic champions Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain will be putting their best efforts in their final leg of Olympic preparations. Clearly, India is not the only side slogging it out. So what is that one thing that teams will be looking to do to ensure a successful Olympic campaign?
“Modern hockey is tough, no matter how hard you train it will count for nothing if you can’t execute all your plans in match situations. This is where the Indian team must focus on – successfully executing all the plans and strategies on the pitch. A coach can plan things up and strategise but ultimately the onus lies on the player to execute all that they have been trained for the Olympics,” says 1972 Munich Olympics bronze winning team member and son of legendary Dhyan Chand, Ashok Kumar.
Kumar – a four-time World Cupper (played in 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1978 editions) – has no doubts that the team can surprise any side if they are able to play according to the situation. “I have seen this team play in the Champions Trophy and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – they are playing good hockey no doubt but at the Olympics, every team would be watching us closely – so we have to have plans to counter them. This can beat any side in the world if they can execute all their plans properly on the pitch,” Kumar observes.
The 66-year-old – who is best remembered for scoring India’s match-winning goal in the 1975 World Cup final against Pakistan – refused to read too much in the change of captaincy. “That was the only surprise otherwise the team was more or less on expected lines. A captain has to lead from the front but there are ten others who have a job to do,” he quips.
Kumar sprung to the defence of ousted skipper Sardar Singh. “People may be saying his form has fallen away but I saw him in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – he was in the form of his life - India can richly benefit from his presence in Rio,” Kumar adds.
One hopes that all the hard training and strategising bear fruit at Rio, as hockey fans will have lofty expectations from the team.