India can spring a surprise or two, feels Somaya

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Indian Hockey Players
Mumbai, Jul 26: Former Indian hockey captain MM Somaya said on Wednesday that the Indian team can pull out a few surprises at the London Games, which is starting on Jul 27.

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"Michael Nobbs has boosted the morale of the team. The current outfit is tactically smart and very fit. I hope they continue with the good work in the Games. They are capable of pulling in a few surprises this time even though they are in a difficult group," Somaya, a member of the gold-winning team at the 1980 Games, said. He was, however, non-committal on India winning any medal in London and felt the team could face problem in trapping the ball on the blue turf, which will be used for the first time in London.

Somaya, who had played three Olympics and also captained the side at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, said the newly-introduced blue turf was more bouncy compared to grass or astro-turfs and hence could pose problems to the players.

Somaya said players like Gurbaj Singh, SV Sunil and Ignace Tirkey were outstanding players and could help India go a long distance. He also praised Sardara Singh, saying the latter was the world's best drag-flicker. On Gurbaj, the former captain said he is a far better player in the right-half position than what he himself was. Somaya was also a right-half during his playing days.

He also said that India had better chances than ever to do well in the Olympics. "Earlier, the focus used to be only on hockey. Now, other sports like wrestling, shooting and boxing too have emerged as disciplines in which India can do well," he said.

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