New Delhi: The Netherlands coach Paul Vanass rates India as a strong team in the Hero Hockey World League Finals beginning here on January 10 and tipped the home side to reach the semifinals.
"This is the top 8 teams of the world and there will no easy games for any one team. Amongst other countries India is a strong team and we are expecting them to make it to the semi finals," Vanass said after the team training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
"It will be interesting to see where do we stand post this tournament, as from here we then start preparing for the World Cup. The aim here is to win important matches and qualify for the finals," he said ahead of the Friday clash against Argentina on the opening day of the tournament.
Speaking about the tournament, the Netherlands captain Robert Vander Horst said, "Our pool is tough with Australia, Belgium and Argentina. This tournament is like a final test for us before we enter the World Cup which is scheduled to take place in our country."
Coach of Olympic champions Germany, Markus Weise also felt that India has world class players with captain Sardar Singh being the key.
"The Indian team is very strong and we hold high regards for them and especially for Sardar Singh. This tournament is the stepping stone to the World Cup. It will be tough for us as we are coming from a situation where the team trained indoor hence now playing outdoor will be tough for us. We are concentrating on basics rather than strategy. The team will give their best shot in the tournament," he said.
Captain Oliver Korn said, "We are here to improve our game and is like a run up to the World Cup. Teams competing here are the best teams of the world and hence pinpointing on one as the strongest contender is difficult. We see the Australians, Dutch and Indian as strong rivals and one to look out for during the tournament.
"The Indians will be playing in front of their home crowd hence they have to live upto the expectations. Sardar Singh and Manpreet Singh are the good players in the Indian team. We will take the experience of this tournament to the World Cup and which will prove vital for us."