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Rajinder Column
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We can beat them (8/16/2003)
--Rajinder Singh
It is great to be back here in Amsterdam. The change in fortunes of the Indian team started here last year, just before the Cologne Champions Trophy, and we are here again hoping to make a few strong statements in world hockey.

The weather is quite pleasant. It was hot when we landed four days ago, but is improving and my players are feeling energized after the sapping humidity of Lucknow. Yes, the team is very fit and ready for the big challenge.

We are starting our campaign against the Dutch on Saturday and we are aware that it is going to be very tough for my boys. I observed the Dutch team on Wednesday when they played a practice against Pakistan and thrashed them. The hosts are the fittest team here and probably the strongest.

I am sure they did not reveal all that day, but what was amazing was the way they scored through counter-attacks. One of the goals came when Sohail Abbas's flick rebounded off goalkeeper's pads. The Dutch latched on to it and just three passes did the trick. Awesome.

Having said that, I must say that we are not overawed. Yes, they are tough and have the crowd support but it will be a very close game. It will be a very good fight and if our forwardline gets going, anything is possible.

We have studied the videos of Holland¡¯s matches very carefully and have worked out a strategy. How it works out remains to be seen. I would say we have a decent chance to upset the favourites.

We have improved a lot as far as penalty corner conversion and defence are concerned. We are working on some new drills and hope to find success here.

The only worrying factor is the lack of match practice. As I said earlier, I was looking at two games. We got only one and the one against Germany did not help me check out some new drills we have been working on. I hope the organisers had planned this aspect better.

Anyway, we are here after two straight tournament wins and that has given the team morale a big boost. There has been a lot of media interest and lot of people have been calling me up, asking me about the changes in the team and its body language.

Yes, we have become more aggressive and if we continue to show the same form and hunger for victory, Indian hockey is certainly going to be up there at the Olympics next year.

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