Returning to the ground after a well-deserved two months break, captain of the Indian hockey team Sardar Singh feels fitness will be key to their success in the World League semifinals to be held at Rotterdam, Netherlands from June 13 to 23.
India`s hopes of qualifying for the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament went up in smoke after they crashed to their third defeat in the event, losing 0-2 to defending champions New Zealand in their must-win penultimate round-robin match here today.
Their campaign back on track after the morale-boosting win over arch-rivals Pakistan, India cannot afford to relax as they face another must-win situation against defending champions New Zealand tomorrow to stay alive in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here.
Madhya Pradesh Sports Department director Dr Shailendra Shrivastava has been appointed as the manager of the Indian hockey team for Azlan Shah tournament to be played in Malaysia from March 9 to 17, sources said.
India`s chief hockey coach Michael Nobbs does not have high expectations from his squad in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia but said that the tournament would serve as an ideal platform for identifying players for the Junior World Cup scheduled later this year.
The disappointing performance of Pakistan in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh has come under sharp criticism from former players and administrators who wondered what fate awaits the team in the London Olympic Games.
Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas celebrated his captaincy debut with a rasping drag-flick into the net as Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in the opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here today.