New Delhi, Sept 15 (UNI) Lavishing praise on coach Joaquim Carvalho for the recent Asia Cup triumph, former captain Dhanraj Pillai today said he should be given at least three years at the helm of affairs to take India among the elite countries of international hockey.
Dhanraj said the attacking brand of hockey showcashed by India in Chennai would have gladdened hearts of hockey lovers and expressed confidence that the winning momentum would not be lost in the crucial tournaments ahead.
''The Indian team played attacking hockey from the beginning to the final (in the Asia Cup). It was amazing for the boys to consistently score lots of goal in every match. To beat Korea twice in the tournament and by a margin of 7-2 in the final was no mean achievement,'' Dhanraj, who was here for a private function, told reporters.
''I give full credit to Carvalho for the attacking style and I think IHF should give at least three years to him to carry forward the momentum in the tournaments ahead including the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympics,'' the 39-year-old four-time Olympian said.
Dhanraj had special praise for the forward line and also expressed happiness that seasoned Prabhjot was among the goals.
India scored 57 goals, while conceding five, from the seven matches they played in the continental tournament with Prabhjot scoring most with 16 and penalty corner specialist Raghunath finding target 11 times.
''I have been an attacking minded player in my playing days. The forwardline played superb in the Asia Cup and am glad that Pbrabhjot was among goals.'' Dhanraj also exuded confidence that with the outstanding performance in Chennai to boot, India should look ahead to match other top teams like Australia and Holland.
''You have plans worked out for each of your opponets. Carvalho has been a fine player and coach and he must have plans how to play against teams like Australia and Holland.
''But, the Asia Cup victory and the manner they won it by showcashing attacking hockey must have given the team the confidence to face the top teams in the world.
''To qualify for the Olympics is the immediate goal and the team should concentrate on the Olympic qualifier now,'' the former centre forward, who captained India in 1998 Asian Games triumph and 2003 Asia Cup victory, said.
India are most likely playing Olympic qualifiers in New Zealand in February-March next year.
Dhanarj, however, wanted to rectify India's age old weakness in penalty corner conversion.
''India scored lots of goal in the Asia Cup. But, the failure to convert penalty corners is a point of worry. I understand the IHF is looking out for penalty corner experts to hone skills for penalty corner specialists.
''It will be good if we get coach from Germany, Holland or Spain,'' he said.
Dhanraj said the hugely successful Hindi feature film 'Chakde India', which showed how 16 Indian girls overcame difficulties to become champions, has given positive awareness about the national game to the nation.
''It is a great movie which showed how teamwork leads to victory despite obstacles. You need to have dedication and passion to bring laurels for your organisation or the country. That is what was shown By Shahrukh Khan and the 16 girls,'' the Padam Shree awardee told at a motivational function at Jindal Stainless Company in connection with the October 28 Delhi Half Marathon.