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Don't be content just being Olympians, Nobbs tell his players (8/4/2012)
--Reet Oberoi
"Don't be content just being Olympians", Nobbs tell his players
Reet Oberoi

"Are you content just being the Olympians?" asked Michael Nobbs moments after India's loss to Germany in the Olympic Games Group B event. The question was directed to his players, who had lost their third game in a row.

India's show in the London Games has been pathetic so far, and the team will have to punch above their weight if they are to avoid the wooden spoon in the quadrennial event. The nation has waited for eight years to see an Indian team at the Olympics, but it has been more heartbreak than before.

Nobbs, who has advocated attacking hockey in the past one year, is now at a loss to understand what is going wrong. "I don't really understand why we are playing like this. We are only doing well in the second halves.

"I asked the boys after the game yesterday. Are you up for the challenge, or are you all only happy getting the Olympian tag? It seems they do not have the stomach to fight, the character to overcome challenges and the mental ability to survive against the best," Nobbs said.

"The only area we are good at at the moment is skills, but the rest seems lacking. It is a test of character and the players will need to show that they are up for it."

India's display at the Olympic Games has also brought under the scanner Nobbs' role as a coach. The Australian has backed the attacking style of play since his induction last year, but what has transpired on the field is far from it. In fact, India are struggling in both attack and defence, and working around a gameplan appears a thing of the past.

Asked to assess his own form as a coach, Nobbs said "it was a work in progress". "We have put in a lot of hard work in the last year, and the results are not showing immediately.

I was not expecting a 2-5 margin against Germany and it shows we are way behind," the coach said.

India's trouble does not end here. The team management is clueless on the way ahead. With two matches to go, solutions don't seem forthcoming. The two-goalkeeper theory has left them short on a player, while the form of some senior players is also hurting the team.

"I am frustrated and very annoyed," said Nobbs. "We started 11 months ago and the patterns aren't showing on the field. It is a question of playing with a lot of heart and showing it on the field. Mentally, we will have to go several notches up to match the rest.

"We need really committed players, like Sardar Singh. He is the bar, a complete modern player and he never complains. He is where the rest have to be.

"I have thrown the boys a challenge today and asked them to show the hard work put in so far on the field. I am hoping they will take it up and prove me wrong."

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