Victorious Indian hockey team partied till 5.30 AM!

Written by: Aprameya .C

Indian hockey team
Bangalore, Feb 28: So, how did the Indian hockey team celebrate their qualification to the London Olympics 2012? Believe it or not, they partied the entire night and it continued till 5.30 in the morning! A.B. Subbaiah, who is the goalkeeping coach of the team, revealed this to in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

India thumped France 8-1 in the FIH Olympics qualifiers final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday to book a ticket to this year's Olympic Games.

Sandeep Singh was the star of the show with five goals while Birendra Lakra, S.V. Sunil and V.R. Raghunath scored a goal apiece to set up a memorable triumph.

"It was a great win for us. We are all overwhelmed with this success. We celebrated the whole night. The players were ecstatic. The party went on till 5.30 in the morning," he said.

Subbaiah, who is a former Olympian, featured in the 1992 and 1996 Games as a goalkeeper.

He said that the team had a "big bash" at Hotel Lalit that was attended by players from other teams as well.

Subbaiah has been a key member of the coaching staff with head coach Michael Nobbs of Australia. Nobbs has been in the coaching role of the Indian team for eight months and this was his first major success.

Subbaiah was effusive in his praise for Nobbs and gives "full credit" to the Australian for taking the Indian team to the Olympics after missing out Beijing 2008.

"Full credit to Michael (Nobbs). He chose his support staff well and gave them a free hand. He changed the way we played. It was an all out attack. This is how Indian hockey was in the 1960s and 70s. We were known for attacking hockey. Nobbs has given the team that style back. Even India's greats who watched the match in Delhi, spoke about this," said Subbaiah, who had won the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1996.

Subbaiah speaks about the hard work put in by the players and the coaching staff to register this success.

"We worked hard for this win. This team has got so much passion. We scored 44 goals in six matches which is a great achievement. And the best part of this was that this team did not take any opposition lightly. India tends to relax when they see weaker opponents but this time they treated all as same," said the former Indian goalkeeper.

He also played for India in two World Cups (1990 and 1994). He won his Asian Games gold in 1998.

Subbaiah feels that the expectations and responsibilities have increased with this qualification.

"With this win, our responsibilities have increased. The day we won the final, we have started preparing for the Olympics. Our focus is on preparations. So, for that, we will be assembling in Bangalore for a camp from March 5. The whole idea of this camp is to make the players relax and have a light training initially before we head towards London," said Subbaiah, who is also the National Selector.

Subbaiah also singled out Sandeeep Singh, who was outstanding during the tournament with 16 goals, the most in the competition.

"Sandeep has always been a great player. In this competition, his confidence was so high. With so much confidence it is difficult for even the best of the best goalkeepers to stop him. He beat all goalkeepers hands down. I would say, his confidence beat the goalkeepers. Europe has some of the best goalkeepers but they were not good in front of Sandeep," said Subbaiah.

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