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Indian hockey team needs to work on defence: Oltmans

Himalayan Paths

Bengaluru, May 31 (IANS) Stressing the importance of developing , the Indian hockey team’s defence, chief coach Roelant Oltmans on Tuesday said the P.R. Sreejesh-led side stands a good chance to win a medal at the Champions Trophy in London, starting June 10.

India will take on Germany in the tournament opener before locking horns with Britain on June 11. They will face Belgium on June 13 and then South Korea and Australia on June 14 and 15.

“It (defence) is the key to a team’s success at a tournament. There are times when you can’t score too many goals to win a match but you can certainly win by avoiding the opponents to score,” Oltmans said in a statement.

“Everybody knows we are good in the knockout stage. But Champions Trophy this year will be slightly different and we need to finish top two to play the final and be top four to play for bronze. It will be interesting to see how our players will cope to this situation and face the challenge. Our realistic expectation is to finish in the top three,” he added.

Citing examples of the top teams which bank on their defences, Oltmans said India’s attackers need to work on their defensive game to achieve the desired results.

“The Germans are known for their defence while the Australians’ defence is slightly unconventional compared to others and Argentina too heavily depend on their defence for good results. It helped them win bronze at the World Cup. In our structure, the entire team needs to work on defence. Some of our attackers are good in defence too and that is our strong point,” the Dutchman said.

Coming back from a week-long break, the team assembled for a national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre here on Monday.

The team’s preparations began with a yo-yo test to analyse the players’ fitness levels which some of them aced.

“It’s the recovery factor. I am happy some of the boys are fitter than ever before,” said Oltmans, who also is the high performance director.

Post their Champions Trophy campaign, India will travel to Valencia, Spain, to play a six-nation invitational tournament and will return only in the first week of July.

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