Improvement is India coach Walsh`s main goal in Hockey World League Final

PTI| Updated: Jan 09, 2014, 20:54 PM IST

New Delhi: The inaugural Hockey World League Final is chief coach Terry Walsh`s first real test with the Indian team and the Australian sounded realistic about his side`s chances, saying he was eyeing nothing but "improvement" from his wards in the tournament.

India got a chance to play in the HWL Final by being the hosts and placed along side Germany, England and New Zealand in Pool A while the Pool B consists of Australia, Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina.

India will open their campaign against England at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here tomorrow.

Asked Walsh about his expectations from the tournament, he replied: "The goal is improvement. Improvement in four basic areas of our performance -- physiological, psychological, tactical and basic skills."

"Expectations for me is measurement. To measure our steady rate of improvement, to evaluate where we are physiologically. To evaluate where we are in terms of handling pressure," he said.

"That`s realistically what we are doing. We have got a training methodology in place which permits us to look at those things. We will also be looking at the level of performance of players and evaluate where they are both as individuals and collectively as a team."

Since taking over the reigns of the team only in last November, Walsh has introduced many new things and the Australian said HWL Final will give him an opportunity to judge where the team stands presently.

"I think we have (implemented some changes) but it will be interesting to see whether or not we can apply them on the pitch. In our practice games we had a mixture," he said.

The HWL Final is being treated as a perfect build-up for India ahead of the World Cup to be held later this year at The Hague, Netherlands.

"It (HWL Final) would be advantegous but certainly not compulsory. If we finish in top four in this tournament that necessarily doesn`t mean we will finish top four in the World Cup. There is a co-relation but there is not a direct relationship," the coach said.

India has fielded six junior players in the squad for HWL Final and Walsh said the event will provide the youngsters a chance to showcase their mettle, especially after the disappointment of Junior World Cup.

"We were obviously disaapointed with the outcome of the Junior World Cup but it`s a huge opportunity for the six junior players we have in the team," he said.

Walsh feels the need of the hour for India is to promote local style of hockey.

"We have to promote a style of hockey which is Indian. It has to have some of the components of Indian way, Indian psyche and Indian culture. That`s really important because that`s what these guys understand and love, that`s why they play," the Australian said.

"We have to make sure that we totally don`t bring a foreign style of play."

India`s vice-captain and goalkeeper P R Sreejesh is in no mood to think too far ahead and said their present focus is on tomorrow`s game.

"The first match of every tournament is very important. We just need to concentrate on the match and give confidence to the junior players," he said.

"There won`t be much pressure because we have got a strong mid-field. We also have got experienced fullbacks. We just have to guide the young forwardline."