Dhanraj Pillay has been of the opinion that while qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics finals wouldn’t be a challenging task for India, the coach’s main task would actually begin once they start the campaign in Tokyo. Pillay also claimed the current Indian team is as good as any of the top few sides.
The last time India had won a medal in hockey at the Olympics, it was a gold medal in the 1980 summer Games at Moscow. However, the once hockey powerhouse has since then plummeted, failing at all the Olympics events since then with their lowest point coming in 2008, where they failed to even qualify.
However, Pillay has said that it is only after India qualifies that Graham Reid’s real challenge would start. "The way the team is performing and playing right now, I am confident that they will qualify for the Olympics and after that their (real) works starts because Olympics is a different ball game and you cant take even one match lightly. Points are important in every match and you will be playing 5-6 (teams) in alternate days," Pillay said.
India will get to know their opponents for the Tokyo Games qualification on September 9, which is when the draw takes place at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. It involves 14 men's and 14 women's teams.
And Pillay has sounded so confident of India’s chances of progressing into the next stage that he has gone on to state that Graham Reid’s side has been as good as the other best sides in world hockey. "Right now, we (India) are at par with Australia, Germany, Holland, Argentina, Belgium and so they (the team) should not be scared to face any team and move ahead with full confidence," said Pillay after attending an National Sports Day function organised by the Maharashtra government, reported PTI.
The Indian veteran hockey player, who has taken part in four World Cups apart from four Asian Games and four Olympics, also stated that the entire Indian hockey fraternity has been looking for India to get a podium finish next year.
"It is very important that first we qualify for the Olympics. It is not only my dream but that of the entire hockey fraternity that Olympics medal should come to India because last was in 1980 Games. After that we have struggled to get a medal in the Olympics," he added.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi