| New Delhi: If the underdog Indian hockey team wants to put up a decent fight at the London Olympics, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh would have to be in prime form and he knows it more than anyone else.
The hero of India`s Olympic qualifiers is confident of a good show and says that he has been working hard to improve his drag-flicking skills.
"I always try to give my best and improve my skills as per the changing trends of the game. I have a feeling that India will be one of the better teams to compete in the London Olympics," Sandeep told a news agency in an interview from La Albercia in Spain.
Asked about the team`s preparations, the senior player sounded pretty confident.
"We have been doing well for the past six months in the run-up to the Olympics. We have put in a lot of hard work and hopefully, it would pay off when it matters the most."
He didn`t seem to agree that the Indians would be under immense pressure at the quadrennial extravaganza.
"There is no pressure on us as we are much more confident of doing better this time around."
While the team`s Australian coach Michael Nobbs is eyeing a top-six finish, his key player feels that the "primary target should always be a podium finish."
"The idea will be to take one match at a time rather than thinking too far ahead. We are planning proper strategies for each of our opponents."
"For the past six months, we have had extensive video analysis sessions where we have dissected the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents," said Sandeep.
The feisty player thinks that training at high altitude in Pune was of tremendous help for the side as it went into the pre-tournament warm-up matches.
"The training camp in Pune has ensured that we have been able to maintain high level of fitness. Credit should also be given to David John who has worked tirelessly with the boys to upgrade their fitness levels. We are now confident of taking on any European side."
The three-week training in France and Spain has also proved to be very helpful, says Sandeep.
"We have played South Africa, France, Great Britain. It has been some good match practice before the real action begins. These matches would be of great advantage," feels Sandeep.
There had been a lot of talk about how the Indian team will do on the blue astro-turf but Sandeep doesn`t want to entertain any negative thoughts.
"I have no problems with the blue astro-turf. I have got used to it and I believe that we have got sufficient games to get accustomed to playing on blue turf. The Olympic test event, Sultan Azlan Shah and now the warm-up matches," he signed off.
First Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 14:13