first_imgThe Indian hockey team is on the last leg of its Olympic preparation. After a two-match test series in France, the squad is now in Spain, where they have faced the hosts and South Africa.With little over a fortnight left for the London Games, these matches assume added significance as they help the coaching staff ascertain the players’ form and also hasten the acclimatisation process.After two comprehensive victories against France at Lille, the team travelled to Spain and the matches against the hosts and South Africa were tougher, as expected.India drew 3-3 with Spain in the first match and then went down 1-2 to them in the next game. In the next match against the South Africans, India prevailed 6-5 in a thriller.Chief coach Michael Nobbs is happy that the team is getting some tough competition in the lead-up to the Olympics.”The matches are tougher but we are improving all the time. We have adapted well to the better game styles,” Nobbs told Mail Today from La Albericia in Cantabria on Tuesday.The experience of playing against Spain and South Africa will hold India in good stead when they take on the tougher teams in London.”They’re both good teams but I feel that teams in this Olympics are all extremely well prepared and of a very high standard,” the Aussie said.India find themselves in a pool with defending champions Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Belgium and New Zealand.The large number of goals India conceded and the relative lack of success with penalty corners reflected the tough time India had against Spain and South Africa. But Nobbs did not seem too perturbed.advertisement”We are still experimenting with combinations and patterns that we will use at the Olympics and will finalise this before the last games against Great Britain and Spain,” he said.In the three matches in Spain, India have scored just one goal via a penalty corner, which is considered their strength.”It is just adjusting to different conditions here and we have been concentrating on field goal conversions as getting them has been a problem. We have been missing too many chances,” the coach said.With only a handful of matches left before the Olympics, the players are keen to impress the coaching staff. It is quite a task to give all of them enough game time to stake their claim.The squad for the France and Spain tour has 22 members, four of whom will return home before the team checks into the Games Village in London.”We started by giving all 22 players a chance, but gradually have been reducing the players to the core Olympic squad,” Nobbs said.The Olympic matches at London’s Riverbank Arena will be played on a blue turf with yellow Kookaburra balls. The upcoming tri-series with Spain and Great Britain will give India another opportunity to get used to them.”The players are happy with the yellow balls and the blue turfs we have played on so far, but the turf in London is different from all of these,” Nobbs said.But the weather has not made things easy for the Indians.”They say it is summer but with the weather we have been experiencing, I am confused about what constitutes summer. It’s wet and cool here all the time and looking at the weather in London. It’s even colder and wetter,” the Australian said.last_img

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