'Top-four finish in hockey will be a miracle for India'

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Indian Hockey
New Delhi, Jul 20: Former Indian hockey captain Zafar Iqbal said although a top-four finish at the London Games looked a miracle for India, but a good outing against the Netherlands, one of the top favourites, on July 30 could boost the confidence of the team. Iqbal said he was convinced by the improvement that the Australian coach, Michael Nobbs, had effected in the Indian side but felt it would be premature to make any forecasts about a probable podium finish.

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Iqbal, who was a member of the 1980 team which was the last to win a hockey gold, said India would at least concentrate on playing better hockey. "We can not jump into the top from the tenth position. If something happens like that, it will only be a miracle," he said.

Zafar said the Indian team must concentrate on a good start. "If we can even pull off a draw against the powerful Netherlands, it will give a great boost for the other matches," he added.

The Arjuna Award-winning hockey player said India should try to finish among the top three in the group. "They can challenge some top teams in many areas but also have some drawbacks to overcome," he said. Zafar said that India's defence was a major area of worry.

Another former Indian skipper Pargat Singh said the Indian supporters should not expect anything extraordinary from Nobbs' men at the London Games.

Singh said that India was making a comeback in Olympic hockey after missing out four years ago was a great development. "But we are still miles behind top teams around the world," he said. He also advised the current squad to play good hockey and try to put up a decent show against the Netherlands. "We should not lose the match by a huge margin as that could dent the team's confidence," Singh, who was the skipper of the Indian hockey teams at the 1992 amd 1996 Games, said.

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