Men`s hockey team target 1st medal, women`s team 2nd gold

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2010, 14:46 PM IST

New Delhi: India`s two hockey teams -- men`s
and women`s -- have fared contrastingly at the Commonwealth
Games so far but they will go into Delhi edition with a common
goal -- to emerge as champions before the home crowd.

The men`s team has never won a medal ever since hockey
became a CWG discipline in 1998 while women`s team has done
way better than their male counterparts -- having already won
a gold and silver in the last two editions respectively.

The men`s team is eager to end its medal jinx and the
women`s team want to win back the title it surrendered in the
Melbourne edition in 2006.

Both the team have poor World Cup results this year but
are determined to do well at the Games before the home crowd.

The men`s team finished a disappointing eighth out of 12
teams in the World Cup held earlier this year at the Major
Dhyan Chand National stadium, the venue for CWG hockey event.

Despite boasting eight Olympic gold, India has not won a
single medal in the Games since hockey`s introduction in the
quadrennial event during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur edition.

Indian men`s team finished fourth in Malaysia, did not
take part in 2002 edition in Manchester and ended on a
disappointing sixth spot, behind Malaysia and New Zealand in
Melbourne in 2006.

Going by the current form, fetching a medal would not be
easy for the Indians this time too as they are clubbed
alongside world champions Australia and arch-rivals Pakistan
in Pool A.

A positive result in the Delhi Games would not only do
wonders for Indian hockey`s sagging fortunes but would also
act a morale booster for the team ahead of the Asian Games in
Guangzhou, China in November.

Having underwent rigorous training at the Balewadi Sports
Complex in Pune for the last six months this time around the
team is better prepared and national coach Harendra Singh
sounded optimistic about the team`s chances.

"Our preparations for the Commonwealth Games are much
different from the World Cup. We have worked on specific
shortcomings which came to light during the World Cup, like
conceding soft goals," Harendra told reporters from Pune.

"We are confident that this time we have the potential to
earn a medal in the Commonwealth Games which has been eluding
us for so many years," he said.

Off-field controversies, including disputes on salary and
captaincy, had dogged the build-up to the World Cup but
Harendra said with no such distractions this time the side is
focused to break the medal jinx.

"The boys are in a good mood. They have realized that
controversies are hindrance before any big tournament. They
have realized that in the end what matters is your performance
on the ground. They are determined to make up for their World
Cup performance," the national coach said.

The Games is also one opportunity for under-achiever
chief coach Jose Brasa to prove his abilities before his
contract expires after the Asian Games and going by the
indications a new term is highly unlikely for the Spaniard
because of his frequent outbursts in the media against the
system.

In contrast, the women`s team will be eyeing its second
gold and third medal in the Commonwealth Games.

In their maiden outing at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games,
Indian women finished fourth behind Australia, England and New
Zealand.

However, four years later in Manchester, the Indian women
defied the odds and stunned hosts England to win their
first-ever gold.

They followed the 2002 triumph with silver in 2006
Melbourne Games and now they have a chance to win another gold
on home turf.

However, for this to happen the players will have to get
over their recent World Cup disappointment in Rosario,
Argentina where they finished a lowly ninth.

If both the men`s and women`s team play to their
potential, hosts India can be assured of two medals from
hockey in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

PTI