Marijne : ‘Either improve intercepting skills or stay at No. 6’

India chief hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne reiterated the importance of improving ball interception skills to better team rankings.

Inconsistent performance is one of the issue dogging the Indian team. And the coach, Sjoerd Marijne, is keen on addressing the problem.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Chief hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne today warned that India will always remain at number six in the world rankings if the players don’t improve their ball-intercepting skills.

After winning the Asia Cup, the Indian team is gearing up for the Hockey World League Finals, to be held in Bhubaneshwar from December 1-10.

Read: India needs to focus on bigger picture after hockey Asia Cup victory

“I think we can improve in every area. The players need to improve intercepting balls because launching counter attacks is one of the strong points of India. We are too good at that and we can be a danger for any country. If we can’t do that (improving ball interception), we will always be number six,” Marijne told PTI  in an interview.

Read: India clinches the 2017 Asia Cup

The World rankings are led by Argentina, followed by Australia, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. Marijne, who replaced sacked Roelant Oltmans, further emphasised that the team needs to work on its consistency.

“Sometimes we are really good but the level drops too low, and if we do not work on it, rival countries would get goals against us. We need to work on consistency,” he said.

Talking about the Hockey World League Finals, Marijne expected some surprise results.

“If you consider the rankings, Argentina are the number one team in the world and Australia are number two. But, there are few others, like Spain, who did good things this summer.

"Competition in men’s hockey is getting tougher and tougher. We may get to see some surprise results, which is good for global hockey,” he said.

Marijne though said it’s difficult to predict how India will fare in the tournament.

“I don’t want to put ourselves in a pressure situation, but there could be some underdogs among lower—ranked teams. I cannot promise India winning Hockey World League, but I would like them to go for it.”

While talking about India’s Asia Cup title-triumph, Marijne appreciated leadership qualities displayed by some players.

“In some crucial matches, players made quick on-field decisions to turn matches in our favour. I am very happy with these leadership qualities of our players, who turned the heat on the rivals at right moments,” Marijne said.

Normally, it is Sreejesh, SV Sunil, Harmanpreet Singh and Sardar Singh, who lead from the front and make on-field decisions, he said.

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