CWG: Low expectations from Indian hockey team?

Indian Hockey Team
New Delhi, Sep 28: As expectations from Indian athletes ride high ahead of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, former hockey coach Vasudevan Baskaran has dampened the mood for the country's national sport.

Noting that the hockey competition at the CWG 2010 is extremely strong, Baskaran, who led the Indian hockey team to a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, said that it would be great if the Indian men's and women's teams even make it to the podium.

"I expect the hockey competition to be at a much higher level than any other sport, with the possible exception of athletics, at the Commonwealth Games, the reason being that the world's top-ranked teams are participating," Baskaran said in an interview.

"If you look at the men's tournament, you have seven teams who are in the top-10 of world rankings. Except for European sides like the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, all the other top teams are taking part in Delhi," he added.

Ranked ninth after Australia, England, South Korea, New Zealand, and Pakistan, the Indian men's team are yet to win their first medal at the Commonwealth Games.

The women, on the other hand, have won gold at the 2002 event in Manchester and were silver at the 2006 Melbourne Games.

The former coach, however, said that the home advantage may be a big supporting factor for the Indian hockey teams. The teams played at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Feb-Mar World Cup.

"Most of the teams are thus quite familiar with the Dhyan Chand Stadium pitch and hence I expect them to be performing at a very high level," Baskaran said.

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