Kolkata/New Delhi: Former players on Sunday lavished praise on the Indian men`s hockey team for qualifying in London Olympics after a gap of four years and said that the achievement would bring back the interest of the game in the country.
India today thrashed France 8-1 in the final of the qualification tournament to book a berth in this year`s London Olympics after missing out the Beijing Games in 2008 and the former greats said it could be the beginning of the return of the glory days of Indian hockey.
"I am very thrilled. I must congratulate the Indian team, the coach, they have done a wonderful job securing an Olympic berth especially after the disappointment four years ago. I hope that the team gets stronger and stronger. They have been outstanding throughout the tournament. Hope that they win a medal at the Olympics and get India`s glory back," Olympian Leslie Claudius said.
Another Olympian Gurbux Singh said with further improvement in performance, India can be a strong team in the London Olympics.
"It`s a great day for Indian hockey. Hope they do reasonably well at the Olympics. I am sure the Indian hockey will be back in focus. They have done it convincingly. I am sure hockey will get the interest back. They will be a force to reckon with in world hockey," Gurbux said.
"Credit goes to the coach and the team and everybody. It`s important that the whole country gets more interest in hockey now. They are playing more attacking but there is lot to be improved in defence. It will take sometime. I will be happy if they finish in top five in the Olympics. A semifinal finish will be a miracle," he said.