Belgian coach predicts tough task for India

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Chennai, Jan 21 (UNI) Adam Cummens, the Australian coach of the Belgium hockey team, today observed that India faces an uphill task in the coming Beijing Olympic qualifiers, to be held in Chile from March 1 to 9.

''It's going to be a straight contest between India and Great Britain in the qualifiers, but India have a tough task against them,'' he told newspersons here as his team was practising ahead of the five test series against India, to be played here from January 26.

Cummens, who had played 143 games for Australia as a mid-fielder, said consistency would be the key if India wanted to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in August this year. ''India can beat anybody on their day. But they need to be consistent in the play,'' the 31-year-old coach, the youngest in the international level, said.

He said the Indian team would be greatly benefited by its Technical Director Ric Charlesworth as he ''is one of the greatest coaches in hockey today.'' The 32-member Belgian squad, which reached here yesterday, had 24 players for the Test series.

About his own team, Cummens said the Belgian team would be approaching the Test series, given official status by FIH, with all seriousness. ''It is very important for us. It's one of the best opportunities to help us finalise the squad for the Beijing Olympics,'' he said.

Belgium have qualified for the Beijing Olympics, upsetting Germany in the play-off for the third place in the European hockey championships, from which three teams have qualified.

Captain Tomas van Dindalck said he was confident of winning against India in the test series.

He said he was worried about the hot and humid conditions in the city. ''We are slowly acclimatising to the conditions here. The team expects similar weather conditions in Beijing also.'' UNI VV GD AB RAI2157

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