New Delhi, Feb 20: India’s free-flowing attacking hockey in the 2012 London Olympics qualifiers has pleased the likes of legendary captains Zafar Iqbal and Ajit Pal Singh.
They, however, feel that India’s real test will be in their next two matches against France (World No.18) and Canada (World No.14). India, who are the highest ranked team in the tournament at World No.10, have dominated the first two matches scoring 23 goals. They followed their 15-1 win over Singapore with a 8-1 thrashing of Italy here Sunday night at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Zafar, a member of 1980 Olympic gold winning team, told IANS Monday that India’s game reminded them of their playing days when the eight-time Olympic champions used to play attractive and attacking hockey.
“I am happy with the way the team is playing. They are playing attractive and attacking hockey. Fans will come to the watch Indian hockey only when they play attractive hockey. That is what he have played for long. We have always believed that offence is the best defence and coach Michael Nobbs also share the same philosophy,” said Zafar.
Zafar was happy to see the Indian team not slacking for a moment in their first two outings.
“They played the two matches with intensity and didn’t drop guard even for a moment. I think the mind-set is now different and they will attack right from the start keeping in mind that goal difference may prove a crucial factor,” he said.
Ajit Pal, who led India to their maiden and only World Cup win in 1975, concurred with his old team mate and said the hosts will be tested in their next two matches.
“The team combination has been working well. But I think the real test of the defence will be against France and Canada. Both are experienced team and technically France is better. They can put India under pressure. But we are also playing attacking hockey with five forwards, that has been our tradition, and hopefully we will do well,” he said.