London, July 26 (IBNS): Michael Nobbs’ greatest fears about an erratic turf at the Riverbank Arena are slowly easing up. The Aussie is realising it is pointless to talk about problems, just four days away from India’s first London 2012 group fixture against The Netherlands.
The team now needed someone who can help play the mind games.
“It’s time to focus and avoid all the distractions,” Nobbs said on Wednesday evening, adding it was time for mental conditioning and doing the right things as the big days approach.
Nobbs said his boys were soaking up the carnival atmosphere in the Games Village and the biggest motivation was just staying together. “They are running into 7-foot 6-inche basketballers and someone like a Usian Bolt. The dining room is a big party. The boys couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere,” he added.
On a lighter note, Nobbs chose Sachin Tendulkar ahead of a Mahendra Singh Dhoni if the Indians had the luxury of a motivational speaker like Australia have in a Steve Waugh.
“Oh, we would have loved a Tendulkar here. His sheer experience would have been something to share with our young players. We need someone to tell them what is right and what is wrong…someone to identify the potholes in the road to excellence and who else but a Sachin!” Nobbs said.
The Aussie added every player in his roster wants to become a role model. “It’s a great moment for everybody. We need focus now. Unlike a sprinter who just has to run a 100m and party the rest of the Games, we can’t afford this luxury.”
Nobbs took over as India’s chief coach in August 2011. His biggest achievement so far has been helping India qualify for the London Games. But the lead-up to the Olympics has been quite worrying. Back-to-back defeats in Europe and just a 10% penalty conversion rate has creased Nobbs’ forehead. “Most of the time is going trying to fix these problems,” Nobbs said tongue-in-cheek.
But the Indians are giving it their all. A select group of players, led by Sandeep Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Shivender Singh and Sardar Singh spent a good 60 minutes training on penalty corner conversions on Wednesday. “Converting corners will be decisive,” Nobbs said.
The Aussie coach, who has been critical of the bouncy and slow synthetic track at the newly built Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park complex in London, is also coming to terms with the playing conditions.
“It’s (blue turf) definitely getting better. Finally it will play well. There have been 200,000 people on this after we played our Test events many weeks ago. The bounce is still there but the pace is okay now,” said Nobbs.
The Indians look relaxed. Even though their chances of a podium finish looks improbable, the media continues to flock every training session. Hockey remains India’s biggest advertisement on the Olympics stage.