We will look to be competitive and consistent: Singapore coach

New Delhi: Singapore men`s hockey team coach Solomon Casoojee is frank enough to admit that his side don`t have any realistic chance of qualifying for the London Olympics but said the team will look to be competitive and consistent during the qualifiers starting here on Saturday.

Singapore will open their campaign against India on Saturday and Solomon said he wants his wards to be competitive without worrying about the result.

"Our aim is to be competitive and may be finish at least at the fifth position, that is what I am looking at. We want to focus on being consistent in the tactical areas," he said.

"There is no pressure on our team because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. India is a powerhouse and they will be what they are, they will be fierce competitor."

"My approach is simple, our job is to develop our own style and execute it here. If I have to find a different style for every team, it would be difficult," he added.

Singapore were roped in as the sixth team after the United States pulled out at the last moment and Solomon said they did their best to prepare themselves in such a short time.

"It was never possible to be in the best physical shape at such a short notice. We just had two and a half weeks to prepare, we did the best we could," he said.

Singapore captain Mohammad Ishak Ismail also echoed his coach`s view.

"It came as a pleasant surprise when we came to know that we are playing in the London qualifier. But we had little time to practice and train for the event. We were in fact planning to go to Australia for a tournament, so preparing for the tournament was a challenge," Ismail said.

Ismail said it would be a good exposure for his team.

"It would be a good exposure to be here and competing against good teams. It is an international event and we will look to give our best," he said.

"We are not looking at the results, the outcome is not important, it would be a good learning experience for us, we have a good mix of youth and experience and it is a big tournament for Singapore, we would look to make the best of the opportunity," he said.

While playing in the Olympic qualifiers was a big opportunity for the Singapore team but coach Solomon had to toil hard to convince the parents of some of players who were supposed to write various exams.

"They were waiting to write exams such as police, polytechnics and other technical education exams, and it was a difficult to get their parents permission to allow them play here. We also had to ask the schools to defer the exams by three weeks," Solomon said.

Asked about the status of the sport in Singapore, the coach said, "Facilities are brilliant there, we have 12-14 artificial surfaces, but hockey in Singapore can be lot better because there is a lot of talent. Around 5000 national players are there and out of which 2500 are juniors, it is relatively healthy state.

"But the problem is when they reach 19 or 20 years of age, I lose them to national service and once you are out of sports, it is difficult to get them back," he added.