Doha: If Indian hockey team’s coach Michael Nobbs is to be believed, then the game’s development in the country is firm on its track. The team’s 2-1 win against Pakistan on Monday evening showed that India’s new-look young team is prepared for bigger challenges ahead. And the Aussie has full faith in his youth team after he dropped seniors following the disastrous result in the London Olympics in July.
“The junior team finished second in Sultan of Johor Cup last month while the senior team finished creditable fourth in Champions Trophy. All these performances show that the development work is underway. Some of the junior players have been with us for the last one year. Everything that we are (as a team now), involves a lot of hard work and time. And it’s getting there,” said the 58-year-old coach here.
In the ongoing 2nd Asian Champions Trophy here, India have won all their four matches, including an encouraging 2-1 win against Pakistan on Monday, which is sure to boost their morale. A day before their win over their traditional rivals, India drubbed minnows Oman 11-0 with four goals coming from the Penalty Corners. Dharamvir Singh (7th & 57th), Raghunath Vokkaliga (29th & 38th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (31st & 43rd) scored a brace each while Sunil Somwarpret (3rd min), Chandi Singh (44th), Akashdeep Singh (52nd), Harbir Singh (64th) and Danish Mujtaba (66th) were the other scorers.
“It was an excellent effort by a young team. The young players showed their determination to play hockey for India,” said Nobbs.
“The team is improving. The main objective is to make a good base for Indian hockey. Most of these are doing well here. Nithin (Timamaiah) is playing very well. He is a big player, (who) moves well and plays very fast. Akashdeep is struggling at the moment. He has got to learn a bit quickly. Though he is working hard, some of things are not coming off,” he explained.
About Pradhan Pudiyokkada, Nobbs said that he too is showing improvement.
“This is his first international event. He is still finding his way here. It’s not like playing domestic tournaments in India. International events are completely different. But (with) every single game he is getting better.”
With India almost assured of a place in the final, which will be held on Thursday, Nobbs felt that a win or loss doesn’t matter for him as long as his young team gets relevant exposure.
“We’ve not come here to make up the numbers. Young kids are improving all the time. We are giving them the chances too. That’s the most important thing,” he concluded.Published 25 Dec 2012, 15:05 IST