India to take on China in Asian Champions Trophy

Ordos (China): Bogged down by controversies in the past few months, the Indian hockey team begins its campaign in the Asian Champions Trophy by taking on hosts China here tomorrow, marking the start of its preparations for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers.

It has been a turbulent last six months for Indian hockey, with two federations slugging it out in court and then coming together in a compromise merger, two key players – Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh – dropping out citing issues with the management and injuries ruling out star players such as Tushar Khandekar, Shivendra Singh and Arjun Halappa.

Like hockey is trying to find its feet among the Mongol population in Ordos, so is new coach Michael Nobbs with the Indian hockey team.

The former Australian midfielder who played with the likes of Ric Charlesworth in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is a believer in the Indian team and is hoping to give the boys a flying start against the hosts, no mean opponents even though they have lost some momentum in the years after their Korean coach Kim Sang Ryul left the team.

"I hope we win and have a good start," said Nobbs at the training session this evening.

"The other teams are good and have some big players."

The Indian training session wasn`t too hard – a light workout followed by sessions on penalty corners and defence work.

Nobbs knows in the absence of Sandeep and Sardara, the team has its work cut out.

China have a good counter-attacking ability but they are also very good at set pieces.

"I know the defence requires some work. But I am confident that this tournament is a way forward," said Nobbs.