London, Aug 8: Motivating players for the play-off match to avert the bottom spot, known as the “wooden spoon” contest, is a big challenge confronting the Indian team management and senior players.
Losing five successive games in the preliminary league, India finished at the bottom of the Pool B with no point. They now face Pool A's last placed team, South Africa in the play-off for the 11th and 12th position on Saturday.
The three-day gap could play a big role in helping soothe the pain of the team representing Olympic hockey's most successful nation and being pushed to the bottom by one reverse after another.
But the players will still need to lift themselves for the last outing of these Olympic Games. Coach Michael Nobbs and captain Bharat Chetri are confident that the players will lift themselves and play a good game.
“I'm confident the players' morale will be fine. It will not be an issue when the team goes out to play against South Africa,” Nobbs told PTI.
“The players are surely disappointed at the way things have gone, but they lifted themselves after four defeats to play a decent match against Belgium, even if the scoreline may not convey that impression,” the Australian said.
“We've been having meetings with the boys. We've told them not to lose heart and try to play well,” added Nobbs.
Captain Bharat Chetri said the players know that they cannot change what has already happened, but can try and do better in the next outing.