Olympics hockey: India-Pakistan can regain lost glory in LondonJuly 29th, 2012 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS
London, July 29 (IANS) The Pakistani hockey coach and players feel that both India and Pakistan look good to regain their lost glory at the London Olympics.
Khawaja Junaid, 46, a member of the Pakistani team that won the bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and who is here as part of the coaching staff, believes both countries have made remarkable progress in recent years and that could be seen in these Games.
“It should now reflect in the Olympic results,” said Junaid, who is here assisting head coach Akhtar Rasool.
“We particularly recognise India’s rise seen in the Azlan Shah Cup in recent years,” said Junaid.
“It is all about believing in your ability to achieve big at the highest level and hockey in the sub-continent today has all the necessary skills, including speed, aggression and counter-strategy.”
The current Pakistan team boasts of Sohail Abbas, the best penalty-corner converter in the history of the game and India has equally talented drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and solid Ignace Tirkey, the senior most members of the side.
“Pakistan penalty-conrner specialist Sohail Abbas and Indian defender Ignace Tirkey are the most reliable players in the game today,” said a Pakistani player shying to reveal his name.
Another Pakistan player says both teams have the unique style and ability to combine dribbling with marking skills.
“Keeping the ball in front of the body enables a player to gain pace and simultaneously the stick should turn over the ball during tackles,” he said.
“This skill gives us an advantage over over European rivals. This is the art of stickwork and dribbling with which Dhayn Chand had mesmerised the Berliners during the 1936 Olympics and the German press found a catchy headline to describe his flair: “Olympic complex has a magic show.”
“India are in a difficult group with Germany and the Netherlands,” said the Pakistan player, adding that “I reckon since India has always done well against Germany it should not be too intimidating for them.”
Moshin Ali Raza, a London-based security contractor from Pakistan said he was keenly looking forward to see both India and Pakistan regaining their pre-eminent status while Lahore-born Shahzad Sahi, a Pakistani taxi driver in London said he was looking forward to seeing either country winning a medal.
Baroda-born Mrugesh Desai, a Forest Gate resident, said both the nations were capable of and should figure among the semifinalists.
India have returned to Olympic Hockey after eight years, having failed to qualify for the Beijing Games.
India have by far the best record at the Olympics, having won the gold eight times, silver once and twice bronze. Pakistan have no mean record, winning the Olympics four times.
(Sarat C. Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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