New Delhi: Placed in a tough pool, India's hockey coach Michael Nobbs says vice-captain Sardar Singh and ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's form would be crucial to the team's chances in the upcoming London Olympics.
"I think we have the harder pool by long way and it would be foolhardy for any of these teams to say where they will finish. We are all trying to do the best we can," Nobbs told PTI in an interview from La Albericia, the capital city of Cantabria in Spain.
"I expect the team to do its best and to try and finish as well as it can. Everyone forgets there are 11 other teams there as well.
"Not just in my opinion, but Sardar at this point in time probably is one of the two or three best players in the world. If he plays well we will do well. On the other hand, if Sandeep scores a bagful of Penalty Corner goals that will also be the key (to our success)," he added.
Back in the Olympics after missing out the Beijing Games, eight-time champions India have been placed in a tough Pool B alongside reigning champions Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea and Belgium.
Nobbs feels Indian hockey is still in the rebuilding phase and it would need some more time to produce results on a consistent basis.
"Not at this stage, but you never know (about India's chances in the Olympics). I am certain that we are well along the right track to start to produce consistent good results and that's going to happen," Nobbs said.
The Australian is satisfied with India's build-up to the Olympics but said his team still needs to fix a few weak links.
"So far, I am happy to the extent that we have done as much as we can do given the time we have with the team. As I have said repeatedly the other teams in the world have been preparing for six years for this event and we have had less than 12 months to resurrect a program and put it back on track," Nobbs said.
"The France tour was a warm up and getting used to the conditions. The Spain tour is to get to prepare the final group for the games and to finalise the combinations substitution methods and other things we will need to do.
"The defence and taking our chances in the other circle are still an issue. It's a time issue to fix but time is our enemy," Nobbs added.
Asked if he expect a backlash if India perform badly, Nobbs said he is well aware of the repercussions if that happens.
"You know when I was appointed, everyone said just qualify as the Olympics is a bonus. Well the first question I got asked when we qualified was 'what colour medal are we going to win?'
"I am very passionate about this team and hockey so the consequences of failing don't sit well for me either as I am not here coaching just for the fun of it," he said.
"...we need to set the emotion aside and do what is required to produce results. These results take time."
More from this Section
July 2, 2015, 3:28 pm IST
July 2, 2015, 3:08 pm IST
July 2, 2015, 2:26 pm IST
July 2, 2015, 2:16 pm IST