Kolkata: Asserting that India were now one of the fittest teams, hockey team skipper Bharat Chettri Tuesday said making the semifinals would be the first target at the July 27-Aug 12 London Olympics. “We have decided that we will first focus on making it to the semi-finals. Then we will work ourselves out,” Chettri told mediapersons here.
Indian, who have an unparalleled record of eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals in Olympic hockey, are in pool B alongside title holders Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea and Belgium. The top two sides would reach the semis.
Exuding confidence, Chettri said though Germany and the Netherlands were formidable rivals, the Indians had it in them to beat any team. He praised Australian coach Michael Nobbs and physical trainer David John. “Under John, the teams’ fitness has gone up immensely. We are now among the fittest team. We can give a good fight to our opponents,” Chettri said on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
He said while earlier the Indian team’s fitness level used to veer around 40 percent, now it has gone up to 90 percent.
Chettri said under Nobbs’ tutelage, the Indians were playing a more attacking variety of hockey. “We are creating more chances. He has changed the defensive style which we had adopted earlier”.
He said the Indian team, which made the cut for the Olympics after eight years, was also studying the video footage of rival sides.
According to him, the team now concedes fewer penalty corners while improving their own conversion rate from the set-pieces. He felt, drag flicker Sandeep Singh and V R Raghunathan were among the top in the business now.