If IHF President RK Shetty, KPS Gill, Hockey India secretary Narinder Batra and the sports minister Ajay Maken are not too busy, they could just take a look at the European Hockey Championships and if they know the Olympic Qualifying process, they would immediately understand that India’s passage to 2012 London just got tougher.
Belgium, incidentally who also qualified for Beijing 2008 beating Germany have now become the official dragon slayer on the European continent. In the match to decide who finishes 2nd in the Pool, they beat Spain 3-2. Belgium had conceded a lead of 0-2 at the break but scored thrice to triumph and qualify for London.
In other words, India’s job gets tougher as some of these teams would end up in our qualifying zone. At the moment the road to London seems a little blurred. Apart from Spain, we could also have South Korea, Argentina or Canada flying down to Delhi in February for the qualifiers. And let’s not forget that lurking behind the scenes are China and Malaysia. We lost in the semi-finals to Malaysia at Guangzhou in the Asian Games. China will always remain a threat especially when it comes to counter-attacking and scoring off set-pieces.
While speaking to an official in one of the hockey federations (There are two!), he said, “Not many are even looking at the Olympic Qualifiers.” On a rather gloomy note, he added, “We also know we cannot qualify with all the ruckus and chaos in the system. But if Nobbs pulls a rabbit out of the hat, it will be a miracle.”
Miracles don’t happen in world sport. Even to make a miracle happen, you need to work hard not destroy a sport like the both the federations are doing. Michael Nobbs may plan an entire strategy to make India qualify but he needs support. After a few months in the saddle, he may have just changed his views on Indian hockey.