The Indian hockey team have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, thanks to 'Paul van Ass sacking saga'. But, the team needs to look forward after the Dutchman was sacked by Hockey India. Paul van Ass has been replaced by High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans as the coach of the Indian hockey team.
Paul van Ass was preparing the Indian team for the 2016 Olympics along with the Hockey World League final but with his exit, the onus falls on Oltmans, who will be under pressure to deliver.
Oltmans' first real test lies in the upcoming tour of France and Spain, where the Indian team are scheduled to play two and three matches, respectively, between 3-13 August.
The Indian team have made a number of changes in the squad for the tour as some players have made a comeback to the national side after missing in the last competition at Antwerp, Belgium. The Indian team must have been buoyed with the return of their star drag flicker, VR Raghunath, who was sorely missed in the Hockey World League in Belgium.
Other players, who are making a comeback, are Kothajit Singh, Gurjinder Singh, SK Uthappa, Danish Mujtaba, SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh and Talwinder Singh. Hence, the Indian team seem like a solid unit as they prepare to face two European nations abroad next month. Sardar Singh will be the captain of team India.
The new coach is looking at the next few matches as crucial ones for India as it will help the team improve and prepare for the Hockey World League finals in India later this year.
"It's a very important series for us as this will be a base for us to understand how do we perform and deliver as a unit and the grey areas to be improved upon before the FIH World League Finals," PTI quoted Roelant Oltmans as saying.
Despite the importance of the Hockey World League final, India will have their eyes set for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where India are expected to bring home a medal.
"After World League Finals, our next step is Rio Olympics. Hence from here on, all tournaments are very important for us. We have to keep working and growing as a team. We are not taking the upcoming series lightly as both the teams (France and Spain) are very competitive and playing against them will help better our tackle against the European style of hockey," said Oltmans.
India's Squad for Tour of France and Spain
PR Sreejesh, Harjot Singh, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, VR Raghunath, asjit Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Sardar Singh (C) , Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Devinder Walmiki, S V Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Talwinder Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Mohd Amir Khan.
Tour of France
August 3: India vs France in Le Touquet
August 5: India vs Franbce in Wattigies Sports Centre
Tour of Spain
August 10: India vs Spain in Junior FC
August 12: India vs Spain in Junior FC
August 13: India vs Spain in RC Polo.