Tell us what the expectations are from this team which is a fine mix of youth and experience?
If we can show a steady rate of improvement during the course of this tournament then only I can say that we’re getting results of the hard work that we have been doing over last few weeks. This is a big year for us with a lot of tournaments coming up and it would be important for us to evaluate if the processes, which are working on, are actually paying dividends or tactical part helping us in the right direction or not.
It’s probably too short a time for you to analyse the team in the last two months. But have you tried to implement a few different things within the team?
Yes, we’ve tried few different things during the practice sessions. But it will be interesting to see whether we can apply those things on the pitch. A lot will depend on players’ mentality during the course of matches because as the pressure goes up, some of the things taught to them disappear and they tend to make mistakes which is obvious.
Do you believe that a strong showing in World Hockey League would be a stepping stone for the World Cup?
I don’t think that if we finish in top four here would necessarily mean that we’ll finish amongst the top four in the World Cup. On the contrary, even if we finish amongst the last two here, I would certainly like to believe that we’ve a chance to finish amongst the top eight nations there, which could be a huge progress for my team. Tactical and physiological development is what I’m looking at, rather than results.
There are as many as six players in the squad who were part of Junior World Cup recently. Don’t you think that they may struggle here in the senior team given the fact that they did poorly there?
We’re all disappointed with the result of our junior team. But this is a huge opportunity for all these six to make amends and be a part of this senior team. They will definitely be monitored closely by everyone. We certainly need a squad of around 34 to 40 players who can be used at the highest level.
What are the gaps that you would drive to fill during the course of this tournament or what is the basic area of focus for you?
We have to promote a style of hockey which is Indian. It has to have some of the components of the Indian way, culture and the psyche in order to improve hockey here. We have to make sure that we don’t bring in a completely foreign style of hockey.
Now, it’s unrealistic to think you can play hockey that way today. Because you can’t, you will fail. But there are some elements of that which can be useful even now. The artistry and the elegance of playing Indian style are fantastic.That’s something that India can bring to the game. It has to bring a measure which doesn’t overflow with the frequent error. Because when you talk about those things then you are indulging with possible error and that’s what modern hockey doesn’t tolerate.