A draw against Germany a realistic goal for India

Buoyed by the winning start against Ireland, the Indian hockey team will attempt to ride the momentum in its second match against champion Germany on Monday.

If the Indians carry on the momentum and somehow find a way to stop the formidable Germans on Monday, qualification to the knockout phase will become smoother.

India has failed to qualify for the only time in Olympic history, the Beijing Games in 2008. It was beaten 5-2 by Germany in the London Olympics, where it hit the depth to finish as the last among the 12 teams. However, the recent Champions Trophy silver has given a lot of confidence to the Indian team.

India has beaten Germany in the Atlanta Olympics, 20 years ago. “We always enjoy taking on big teams like Germany,” said captain P.R. Sreejesh, sounding quite positive.

For coach Roelant Oltmans, there was scope to wriggle out of the clutches of a strong team like Germany if the boys played their best. “They are a strong team. But, I do see some opportunities in the game. To execute it, we will have to give more than 100 per cent,” he said.

While India beat Ireland 3-2, Germany outclassed Canada 6-2 in the opening league matches of the group.

The German side has five players from the gold-winning combination in London, and has two menacing players in Christopher Ruhr and Florian Fuchs who can break through any defence with their flair and fire power.

In its attempt to qualify for the quarterfinals in the group and possibly get placed third so as to avoid World champion Australia, India will cherish every point it earns along the way.

Later, India will have Argentina, the Netherlands and Canada to tackle in the space of four days.

A win against Germany will definitely be welcome, but against strong teams, India will be more than happy to split points and inch closer to the knockout phase.

“I am staying back for a few days, and will cheer the hockey team,” Leander Paes.

It may be recalled that Leander’s father, Dr. Vece Paes was part of the Indian hockey team that won the bronze in the 1972 Games in Munich.