Expecting Indian hockey team to win medal at Rio Olympics is unrealistic, says Viren Rasquinha

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© Twitter - Viren Rasquinha

Expecting Indian hockey team to win medal at Rio Olympics is unrealistic, says Viren Rasquinha

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Arun S Kaimal

06/16/2016

Former Indian international Viren Rasquinha on Thursday said that expecting the Indian hockey team to win a medal at Rio Olympics is unrealistic. Rasquinha, who was named as one of the commentators for Star Sports’ Olympic coverage, said that India should aim to qualify for the quarters.

After going through a horrible period, which saw them not qualifying for the Olympics in 2008, the Indian hockey team have experienced an upward surge in their fortune in the recent past, rising to seventh in the rankings and winning a bronze at the Hockey World League final in December last year.

Speaking about the Indian hockey team’s chances at a panel discussion, former Indian International Viren Rasquinha, who was named as one of the commentators for Star Sports’ coverage of the Olympics, said that it would be unrealistic to expect a medal from India at the quadrennial event.

“We have to take one step at a time. In Beijing (2008 Olympics) India did not qualify and we were 12th (and last) in London (Olympics in 2012). From there to go and win a medal is unrealistic.

Our first aim should be to qualify for the quarterfinals,” Rasquinha said, reported PTI.

The 35-year-old put World Champions Australia as the favourite for the gold, and said that India should aim to qualify for the quarter-finals.

“The first priority for the Indian squad would be to make it to the quarter-finals (under the changed format for the tournament). Australia are undoubtedly the favourites. But take away Australia and we have a chance against all other teams.

“All are within our range. If we meet any of those countries in the quarters I would have hopes (for India) but if we meet Australia, I don’t have hopes as our record is not good. The no 1 priority is to qualify (for quarters) and no 2 is to avoid Australia (in quarters),” said Rasquinha.

Rasquinha, who represented the country at 2004 Olympics in Athens, also showered praise on Roelant Oltmans for India’s recent performance, and said that the Dutchman has done a wonderful job.

“Oltmans is doing a fantastic job. He has built a fine team ethics. Everyone comes back to help the defence. There has been effective rolling substitution because of which India is playing at a very high intensity that has surprised many. But I have not been surprised,” he said.

“I had seen Oltmans making a difference to Pakistan in Athens. I don’t want to talk about the past, but he’s the best person to guide India and has done a wonderful job. I am not surprised to see India playing really well in the (ongoing) Champions Trophy,” Rasquinha added, reported PTI.

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