Execution key to finish on podium in Tokyo Games: V Baskaran

Former India captain V Baskaran believes the current national men’s hockey team should not read too much into the results at the Hockey Pro League and should rather focus on executing their plans on the field during next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be played this year but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been postponed till summer of 2021.

Indian men’s hockey team last won a gold medal in Hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics and it was under the leadership of Baskaran. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish.

“…every single player needs to give his minimum 80 per cent if not 100. Every team at the Olympics come to win and they will do everything they can to stop you from giving your 100 per cent,” Baskaran was quoted as saying by Hockey India.

“Podium finishes cannot happen with just 4-5 players giving their 80 per cent and the rest giving their 60 per cent.

“Every single player needs to be consistent and for the Indian men’s team the chief coach Graham Reid has pointed this out several times,” he added.

The Indian team had made an emphatic start to their maiden Hockey Pro League campaign earlier this year with a 5-2 and 3-3 (3-1) win against the Netherlands, followed by a 2-1 win and 3-4 loss against World Champions Belgium and 3-4 loss and 2-2 (3-1) win against Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the competition.

They will now resume their campaign in the 2020 season when they play Argentina on April 10 and 11 next year in the revamped schedule. They will then face Great Britain away from home on May 8 and 9 before travelling to Spain to play matches on May 12 and 13. The team will take on Germany in away matches on May 18 and 19 before finally playing a home tie on May 29 and 30 against New Zealand.

“While playing in Hockey Pro League against top teams it will set good momentum ahead of the Olympic Games, my advice is that the team should not read too much into the results,” cautioned Baskaran.

“Olympics will be a very different stage compared to the Hockey Pro League and each player will be playing about 200 minutes of play on average with back to back matches,” he added.

Meanwhile, the 69-year-old also said that the women’s team can too achieve success and end the medal drought in Tokyo.

The Indian eves have never been able to win a medal in the prestigious quadrennial event. In Moscow Games in 1980, the team finished fourth while in Rio Games in 2016, they finished at the 12th spot.

“Since I have watched this women’s team closely too, I feel they have great potential to do well. They have shown good results against top teams in these past few years and they can surely be the dark horse in the tournament.

“I feel for both men and women’s team, execution is the key. They have the talent, they need to execute to perfection. If they do, they can surely finish on the podium,” he added.