Important for India to start well in World Cup: Onkar Singh

Mumbai: Onkar Singh, member of the 1975 World Cup-winning national hockey squad, feels it is important for the Indian team to win the first two games to gain momentum in the FIH World Cup starting on May 31 in Hague, Netherlands.

"It is crucial for India to win first two games. If that happens, the team will be in right spirit and will have the momentum their way. World Cup is a big tournament and a lot will depend on how the team starts," the former half back told reporters here.

India are to play Belgium (May 31) and England (June 2) in their opening games in Group A. Australia, Malaysia and Spain complete the group.

Onkar, the baby of the 1975 team that created waves by winning the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur for the first and only time in Indian hockey history, supported the decision of the world body FIH to split a match into four quarters after the World Cup.

This would help the teams in strategising and assessing the technical faults in between the quarters, he said.

Singh believes that the skill levels of the present-day players have come down and overall the country lacks quality for each position in the team.

"In our days, there was a tough competition for every spot and we had experts for every position. But now hockey has changed. Nobody knows whether they are playing back or forward. I feel this (expert players) is missing," he said.

"The skills have come down even though the fitness has improved. Dribbling is not there. The players can`t hold on to the ball. Even one-on-one situation is difficult for them to overcome," he added.

"Strength-wise we can`t beat the foreigners as they are very strong. They can even play the shots while standing. So skill is a must," he said.

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