India hockey coach Roelant Oltmans today said failures of the past in some major tournaments have not been a deterrent in his quest to make the national team world class. "After I assumed charge as the Indian coach four years back, I have seen the team improving. The team also have faced failures, but it has not been a deterrent in my quest to make India a world class team," he told PTI in an interview at Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru.
The comment comes as Indian hockey goes through a lean phase. They failed to qualify for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final in Malaysia and registered just one win in four matches at the Dusseldorf Invitational besides a sixth-place finish at the Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals in London.
In contrast, 2016 has been a landmark year when the men's team won its maiden Champions Trophy silver medal, which propelled them to No. 5 in the FIH rankings - India's best standing since 2004.
India also won the men's junior World Cup last year.
Oltmans said the Indian team is on track to achieve its goal.
"When I joined in 2013, the very first thing that I told is that it takes six years for any team to become a consistent and world class team. This is the fourth year, and you know how many more years are left, but I hope in next one-and-a- half years we are ready for World Cup Finals," he said.
"We have a plan, we have a vision, and we have ideas about how to achieve them. I am here doing my job, so let me do my job and hope that it pays off," he said.
Replying to a query, Oltmans said India boasts of nine players who have been blooded from the junior world cup squad.
"We already have nine players who played junior world cup. That is quite a number. That means about 30 per cent of our players are coming from junior world cup squad.
"We also keep an eye on players - how they are improving in the development squad, which has been approved by the sports ministry. If somebody is good, then I have to look into him," he added.
Asked how he compares India with Pakistan, Oltmans, a former Pakistan coach, said, "We played Pakistan twice and beat as many times. We are happy about it, but it is not enough to beat one side in a tournament. It does not count. We need to beat other teams as well, and we didn't."