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August 18 2019
India's qualification for Olympics just the beginning
26 February 2012

At long last, they have made us smile. India's qualification for the London Olympics has come as a welcome boost to the sport that has been mired in controversies for some years now.

Much credit has to be given to coach Michael Nobbs for turning the side around. Unlike his predecessors, the Australian hasn't tinkered with the so-called 'outdated' Indian style of hockey. In fact, he has seen it, and treated it, as a strength. He has tried to blend India's artistry with the physical nature of the modern game. This was the Indian team that one dreamt of: enthralling us with speed while mesmerising us with skills.

Nobbs hasn't shied away from making tough calls either. Just a couple of months ago, he had pulled up star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh for not obeying team orders. Dropping veterans Rajpal Singh and Arjun Halappa for the qualifiers was a brave move as well. Luckily for him, it didn't backfire. Omitting skipper Bharat Chetri from the playing XI in the final shows he means business. You cannot take your place in the side for granted anymore.

Although the moment calls for celebration, it is important not to get carried away. The quality of opponents in the qualifiers was nowhere near world standards — even the scores suggest that.

At London 151 days from today, it will be a different ball game. India need to make sure they are not there just to make up the numbers. There is no time for the team to rest on its laurels; the battle for power can take a back seat. Preparations for the Games have to begin now!

 

 

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