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First match is very important, says hockey ace Dhanraj Pillay

Hockey ace Dhanraj Pillay said that he would be happy if hockey team comes in the top six bracket in London.

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He has been there and done that four times -- from 1992 to 2004.

Hockey ace Dhanraj Pillay said that he would be happy if hockey team comes in the top six bracket in London.

Talking at ‘Monnet Go for Gold’, an initiative marking the 30-day countdown to the London Olympics, here on Wednesday, Pillay said: “I expect a top-six finish from the Indian team. Coach Michael Nobbs has been doing a very good job. There is no doubt three or four players have missed out but we need to be positive.”

He said the first match (against Holland on July 30) will be crucial. Speaking from his experience, Pillay said: “Invariably, the first match has always cost us. In 1992, my first Olympics, we lost the first match 3-0 to Germany. In 1996, we lost 0-1 to Argentina. The first match is very important.”

The 43-year-old former India captain said that the controversy marring the Indian tennis team selection for the quadrennial event should not have happened in the first place. “More has been written about the controversy. There have been differences between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi for a long time.

This could be Paes’s last Olympics, his sixth. Having known them closely during my Olympics experiences, they are fighters and will keep aside their differences when they take the court.”

Meanwhile, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, sponsors of the Indian boxing team since 2010, has announced cash prize of Rs51 lakh for each boxing gold, Rs21 lakh for silver gold and Rs11 lakh for bronze at the Olympics. The event was part of the Monnet Go For Gold torch run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, covering 6,486km across more than 50 cities. Also present were Maharashtra state ministers Rajendra Darda and Padmakar Valvi, and MP Vijay Darda.

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