Dhanraj Pillay ‘confident’ of India’s Tokyo 2020 ticket

Former hockey captain Pillay feels the men’s hockey team, at the moment, is at par with the top sides in the world.

Pillay — who played in four World Cups and the Asian Games — feels the men’s national team would make it to the Tokyo Games on the back of recent performances.   -  FILE PHOTO/PTI

 

Insisting that India is currently at par with other leading hockey playing nations, four-time Olympian Dhanraj Pillay is confident of the national team’s qualification for next year’s Tokyo Games.

The draw to determine the matches of the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will be held on September 9 at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It will be conducted by FIH CEO Thierry Weil and will be streamed live on the FIH Facebook page.

Fourteen men’s and women’s teams, including India, will be involved in the draw.

“Right now, we (India) are at par with Australia, Germany, Holland, Argentina, Belgium and so they (the team) should not be scared to face any team and move ahead with full confidence,” Pillay told reporters here on Thursday night.

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Pillay — who played in four World Cups and the Asian Games — feels the men’s national team would make it to the Tokyo Games on the back of recent performances.

“It is very important that first we qualify for the Olympics. It is not only my dream but that of the entire hockey fraternity that Olympics medal should come to India because the last was in 1980 Games. After that we have struggled to get a medal in the Olympics,” he noted.

India won the last medal in hockey at the Olympics — a gold — in the 1980 summer Games at Moscow, but after that the country hasn’t tasted any success at the quadrennial event. They had even failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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The former skipper feels the real work for coach Graham Reid and his men will begin after qualifying for the Olympics.

“The way the team is performing and playing right now, I am confident that they will qualify for the Olympics and after that their (real) works starts because Olympics is a different ball game and you can’t take even one match lightly. Points are important in every match and you will be playing 5-6 (teams) in alternate days,” Pillay said.

“As of now, he (Reid) is doing a good job. His job is to coach and he is doing the job earnestly,” he said.