“Unless the Indian team converts two out of three penalty corners into goals in every game, it is very difficult for the team to match the likes of Holland, Germany and Australia,” said Michael Kindo, the 1972 Munich Olympics bronze medal winning member.
A fullback in the 1975 World Cup winning team, Kindo puts his faith on drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh.
“On his day, hardly anyone can match Sandeep Singh in hitting targets in the penalty corners. I hope he excels in all the matches and see through a podium finish for India,” Kindo, who had also excelled in India's silver and bronze medal feats in the 1971 and 1973 World Cup, said.
India, which is clubbed in Group ‘B' along with Holland, Belgium, Germany, South Korea and New Zealand in the London games beginning from July 27, had a good outing in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia finishing third.
“If the boys continue to play the way they played in Malaysia, there is every chance of India getting an Olympic medal,” says another fullback Sylvanus Dungdung, one of the stalwarts that fetched the gold medal for India in the 1980 Moscow Olympics - the last such super performance till date.
“I hope the exposure trip to France and Spain will also help the team, which should focus on building up speed to match the Europeans...I also hope the team emulates our cricket team which won the World Cup after 28 years,” he said.
Putting his hopes on midfielder Sardar Singh and forward Shivendra Singh to fetch penalty corners for the team, the 1984 Los Angles Olympic team fullback Manohar Topno says any chance missed against teams like Holland may cost the match itself.
“With teams like Holland and Australia, we can't afford to miss a single scoring chance. I hope Sardar Singh and Shivendra Singh get more penalty corners to help Sandeep Singh convert them into goals,” he said.
“Indian players also have the added pressure of matching the speed of the Europeans and Australians,” Topno, who recently watched a tournament and was impressed with the speed of European players, said.
Once the team was through to the semis, the confidence level would soar and so the chances of getting medals.
Echoing her more illustrious brethren, former Indian women's hockey team captain Savitri Purti advises the team to go by the adage “Offence is the best form of defence”.
“Defensive play will not yield any result. So the best way for Indian Indian men's hockey team to hope for a podium finish is to go bang-bang from start to finish,” Purty felt.