Ipoh: As Roelant Oltmans gets ready to face the toughest challenge of his stint with Indian hockey so far, the Dutchman got a much-needed good luck message from the team`s physio Shrikant Iyengar just hours before India`s Asia Cup opener against Oman here on Saturday.
Oltmans, who is also the High Performance Director of Hockey India, is presently the interim coach of the Indian men`s team for the all-important eight-nation Asia Cup after Australian Michael Nobbs unceremonious ouster.
The Asia Cup, starting here today, is Oltmans first real test as India will have to win the competition to qualify for next year`s World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.
"As we embark on a new challenge rest assured that it would only be an addition to the numerous achievements of your life. As an Indian I thank you today doing the great job for the country and the game. Good luck and best wishes. Your physio," Shrikant wrote in his message to Oltmans sent along with a flower bouquet.
Asked what made him sent the coach a good luck message, Shrikant said, "It is my way of thanking him for his tireless job of preparing the team for the Asia Cup over the last six weeks. It is a very important tournament for us and we all need every bit of wishes from wherever possible."
After having failed to secure a direct berth in the World Cup through the FIH World League Round 3 in Rotterdam, India now face a must-win situation in the Asia Cup, failing which they face the prospect of missing out on a chance to play in the quadrennial tournament for the first time since the launch of the mega-event in 1971.
However, the road to the semifinals should not be much of a problem for India as they are placed in a relatively easy Pool B along side Korea, Bangladesh and Oman while Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Chinese-Taipei are in Pool A.
India will open their campaign against minnows Oman today at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium. The Sardar Singh-led side will face title holders Korea on August 26 followed by their last pool match against Bangladesh on August 28.