India well-prepared for Champions Trophy, says Oltmans
Bhubaneswar: India’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans believes that his wards are well-prepared to take on Olympic champions Germany in the Champions Trophy lung opener, here tomorrow.
India are placed in a tough Pool B in the elite eight-nation tournament alongside Germany, Netherlands and Argentina.
“The mood in the team is upbeat. I think this is what we have been practicing for the last couple of weeks. The last days are always difficult because you want the tournament to start,” Oltmans told reporters at the Kalinga Stadium here on the eve of the match.
“I think we are well prepared but still you never know because I am sure all eight teams are very well prepared. I am pleased with our boys training. The team is ready for the tournament,” he added.
Even though Germany have fielded a relatively young side in the tournament, Oltmans warned against taking their opponents lightly.
“Germany are the Olympic champions and European champions. They are very strong team and there is no doubt about it.
“Of course, they came here with some youngsters but at the same time they have very experienced and high quality players like (Tobias) Hauke,(Moritz) Furste, (Nicolas) Jacobi, (Florian) Fuchs. So we can’t underestimate Germany,” said the legendary Dutchman, who is doubling as India’s chief coach in the tournament after the exit of Terry Walsh last month.
“Germany is always good. They have a very high quality team but of course our aim is to have a good start to the tournament.”
Oltmans said India’s performance in the Champions Trophy will give a good idea about where Sardar Singh and Co stands among the cr?me de la cr?me of world hockey.
“Champions Trophy is a tournament where top eight teams of the world play and we want to compete on the best possible level. At the same time we want to see where we stand against these top sides.
“It will be a very close tournament because all the teams are close to each other,” he said.
There were doubts about skipper Sardar Singh’s participation in tomorrow’s match after he sustained a calf muscle injury in the practice game against Australia.
But Oltmans allayed any such fear, stating the ace midfielder is 90 per cent match-fit.
“We tested Sardar today. We will see whether there will be any reaction. He is sure that he can play tomorrow. At this moment I think he is 90 per cent sure that he can play,” the coach said.
Sardar too expressed confidence of playing against Germany.
“I am fit now. Initially, I felt some problems during the training session today but as time passed by I felt comfortable. I am confident of playing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Germany captain Moritz Furste refused to take India lightly even though the two teams are six places apart in the FIH rankings.
The Germans are currently ranked third in the world while India is languishing at the ninth spot.
“It will be tough against India tomorrow. They are playing very good hockey of late. They will also have home support behind them. It will be a closely fought match,” Furste said.
The skipper feels the presence of youngsters in the team will be a boost for the Germans.
“We have come here with strongest available team. There are quite a few youngsters who will be hungry to perform, but we also will have to understand that they need time,” Furste said.