Olympic qualification not an issue for Indian hockey team, says former skipper

Bhubaneswar: Former Indian skipper Dilip Tirkey feels the way the Indian hockey team is playing, there will be no issue for them to qualify for the Olympics.

“I think the team is playing in the right direction so the future games will not be an issue. I believe qualification (for Olympics) is not a problem. I have seen a lot of changes in hockey in terms of rules, fitness, pace and we have fit players in the squad,” Tirkey told ANI.

India, who kicked off their journey with a massive 5-0 victory over South Africa in the 14th men’s Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium, will play their next group fixture against Belgium on December 2.

Talking about the team’s momentum for the second fixture, Tirkey said, “Match against Belgium will be a tough one because the top team of Pool will directly qualify for quarterfinals. So, it is an important match and I guess our team is in the right momentum so they can do it.”

“It’s a good combination of senior and junior players. All are doing extremely good,” he added about the team combination.

Praising Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Tirkey said: “I want to thank the CM for his support not only for hockey but all other sports.”

The Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018, which started on November 28 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, will end on December 16.