India up against reigning Olympic hockey champions Germany
Rio de Janerio, Aug 7 (IANS) On a high after an impressive 3-2 win over Ireland in its campaign opener, India’s men’s hockey team will aim to keep the winning momentum intact against reigning Olympic champions Germany in a keenly anticipated match pool encounter here on Monday.
Against heavyweights Germany, India held their nerve at the recent Champions Trophy where they had an early lead of 3-1 until the third quarter, but defensive errors pegged them back to a draw. It was an inspired performance by the Indian team though Germany were not playing their full squad in that match.
The Olympic Games is different and India will have to go all-out, giving more than their 100 percent to get past Germany and stamp a victory.
Penalty corner specialist Rupinder Pal Singh and drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath are in good form after helping the team to victory in the first match. But the team will have to battle harder against the title holders as there won’t be easy penalty corners which they got against Ireland.
“I have studied them in Champions Trophy and they are a very strong team. But I do see some opportunities in the game for us and to execute it, we will have to give more than our 100 percent,” India’s chief coach Roelant Oltmans said in a Hockey India release.
He also insisted on watching the video of the match against Ireland to learn from the mistakes committed to ensure the team is ready for the Germans, who beat Canada 6-2 in their opening game on Saturday.
“A win is a win and I don’t wish to talk about the mistakes. We had tweaked the team’s structure a bit to counter the Irishmen. I am happy the boys stuck to the plan and executed it. Playing Germany will be different and we will need a different game plan,” Oltmans added.
However, India’s campaign against them did not go as planned in the recently held Six Nations Tournament in Valencia, Spain, where the team lost 0-4 to a full strength German squad.
India last won a match against Germany at Olympics in the 1996 Atlanta Games where they prevailed 3-0.
In 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, India didn’t play against Germany but in 2012 London were beaten 2-5.
Skipper P.R. Sreejesh is optimistic of a victory against Germany.
“Though we won narrowly against Ireland, the team is motivated as we have started on a winning note and have earned three points. We are pumped up and we always enjoy taking on big teams like Germany. I am sure we will put up a tough fight against them,” said Sreejesh.
The strong German squad comprises of five Olympic Gold medalists from London, and midfielder-turned-defender Moritz Furste who is considered among the best players in the world.
The 22-year-old attacker Christopher Ruhr and striker Florian Fuchs are other players to watch out for in the German squad which is currently ranked No.3 in the world.