Going by its past performances, not many would fancy Indian men’s hockey team’s chances in the upcoming Olympics, but chief coach Roelant Oltmans says a medal finish in Rio is very much achievable if “everything falls in the right place at the right time”.
Eight-time gold medallists India finished a lowly 12th and last in the London Olympics four years ago, but Oltmans feels that’s a thing of the past and says if his boys can bring out their best anything can happen this time around.
“We are in a group of teams that can win a medal but everything has to fall in the right place at the right moment and that is what the Olympic Games are all about,” Oltmans told PTI in an interview.
“Every team in the world wants to win a medal in the Olympic Games. For us it’s the same but we have to make improvement to make that happen. I always go step by step, so the first thing for me is having a good pool phase and qualify for the quarterfinals. From there on we need to win only three more matches,” the Dutchman said, summing his expectations.
India are clubbed alongside defending champions Germany, European champions Netherlands, Pan-American Games winners Argentina, Ireland and Canada in a relatively tough Pool B, while Pool A consists of world champions Australia, Belgium, hosts Brazil, Great Britain, New Zealand and Spain. Top four teams from each pool will progress to the quarterfinals.
“For me the pool is nothing new. The pools are based on world rankings and they are honest and fair. We have to work hard to make sure that we start well and finish in the top four in our group to qualify for the quarterfinals. It is our primary aim,” he said.
Oltmans, who is also the High Performance Director of Indian hockey, hinted that they might go in with goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.