Indian hockey on the cusp of making history, says Roelant Oltmans
High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans feels Indian hockey team is on the cusp of making history but said to achieve that Sardar Singh and Co will have to give their 100 per cent against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Hero Champions Trophy semifinals on Saturday.
Bhubaneswar: High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans feels Indian hockey team is on the cusp of making history but said to achieve that Sardar Singh and Co will have to give their 100 per cent against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Hero Champions Trophy semifinals on Saturday.
Since the tournament's inception in 1978, India has managed to win just one medal -- bronze in 1982 edition in Amstelveen, the Netherlands and Oltmans said his side has come 75 per cent close to the podium.
"Of course we are happy (with our performance) but when you are close to getting more, every sportsman will try to get more out of it. There is now 75 per cent chance to win a medal. In the history of the Champions Trophy that happened once. So this team can write history and that's what they are looking for," Oltmans said on the eve of the high-voltage encounter at the Kalinga Stadium.
The Dutchman, who is doubling up as a coach in this tournament after Terry Walsh's exit, said to register their name in record books India need to execute their plans tomorrow.
"Pakistan has showed against Holland that they can play very good hockey and there is no doubt about it. It is up to us to find the strategy that will allow us to get a good result, a result which we are looking for. It's always about details and if we can execute our strategy we have a serious chance. But we have to give 100 per cent, Oltmans said.
He rejected that his team will be under pressure tomorrow, but said Indian players should do away with emotions before the match, which is a common feature in any Indo-Pak encounter.
"I never feel pressure and likewise my team doesn't feel pressure. We are here to improve ourself, we are here to show the world that we are coming closer to the top. I think we showed that already. We enjoy what we are doing," Oltmans said.
"For me it's the same. It's a one of match in the tournament and that's the way you have to approach. History doesn't work.
"(But) we have to get our strategic execution right instead of emotional execution," he said.
Oltmans said he is never a satisfied man and wants more from his players.
"There is always scope for improvement. The moment you think you are there, you better stop. But to be among the top 4 in this world level is sure an achievement compared to all the other achievements we have done this year," he said.
He warned his players to be alert on their feet against a Pakistani side, which sits back and relies more on counter-attacks to score goals.
"Against Holland Pakistan relied on tight defence and counter-attacking and that's exactly what I expect them to do tomorrow. That's what we have to be careful, especially the counters," Oltmans said.
India also has a minor injury concern going into the match.
"Dharamvir has a light injury but I expect he will be able to play tomorrow," Oltmans signed off.