India hockey
Can India win a gold in hockey in the Olympics after 36 years? Pictured: India players in action 12th South Asian Games 2016 at Moullana MD Tayabullah Hockey Stadium in Guwahati on Feb 12, 2016IANS

Ahead of every Olympics, a question arises in the minds of every Indian. Can India win their ninth hockey gold this time around? The question has arisen once again ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016.

The India senior hockey team last won a gold medal in the Olympics in the year 1980. It has been 36 years since. Already, eight gold medals have been bagged by India before and after the nation's independence. Can the ninth one be achieved in Rio de Janeiro this year?

The current India hockey team chief coach Roelant Oltmans says that a medal is very achievable this time around, provided the team perform to the best of their abilities.

"We are in a group of teams that can win a medal but everything has to fall in the right place at the right moment and that is what the Olympic Games are all about," Oltmans told the Press Trust of India. "The question is 'will you be able to to show your best hockey at the right moment'? and the answer is 'If we do so we are (a medal contender)'.

"Every team in the world wants to win a medal in the Olympic Games. For us it's the same but we have to make improvement to make that happen. I always go step by step, so the first thing for me is having a good pool phase and qualify for the quarterfinals.

"From there on we need to win only three more matches," the Dutchman explained.

Sardar Singh's men have been grouped alongside 2012 London Olympics champions Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and Argentina. There are a total of two groups and following the group games, the top four teams from every group will progress to the quarterfinals.

The other group consists of Australia, Belgium, hosts Brazil, Great Britain, New Zealand and Spain.

Oltmans has stated that the groupings have been done on the basis of their teams' merits and he added that he was not surprised as to why and how India got into such a tough group.

"For me the pool is nothing new. The pools are based on world rankings and they are honest and fair," the Dutchman continued. "We have to work hard to make sure that we start well and finish in the top four in our group to qualify for the quarterfinals. It is our primary aim.

"Once in the quarterfinals then it's a one-off game and everything can happen in a one-off game," he added.

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