Going the Nobbs’ way: Australian coach has given belief that India can be world-beaters

Michael Jack Nobbs, the coach and David John, the physiotherapist have in just seven months given belief to the players and hockey followers that India can be world-beaters, writes the Times Of India. “The first thing Nobbs did was marry the Aussie way with the Indian system. He put stress on relentless attack — no back passes, please. This has taken some unlearning for the players coached in the European style by Nobbs’ predecessor Jose Brasa.  Nobbs’ philosophy is simple – attack even if you lose the ball and put pressure on the opponent to make mistakes, says the national daily, quoting Nobbs, “Passing back is cowardice.”

TOI further writes that the battered game, which sulked in a corner after every humiliation and snub in recent times, is learning to smile again. “Hard work and determination are its best friends now; victory no more a beautiful dream. It’s up and about, ready and willing to challenge.  With the Olympic qualifying tournament beginning in the Capital on Saturday, Indian men have been labelled favourites. They did not qualify for the Beijing Games in 2008 but London is very much on,” says the paper.

Competition isn't tough but India need to be at their best to make the Olympic cut, writes Hindustan Times. Going by the draw of the Olympic Qualifying tournament, commencing at the National Stadium on Saturday, India should have a smooth passage to London. Even national coach, Michael Nobbs, feels so given the home advantage India is going to get in the six-nation tournament. India play Singapore in the opening tie and Italy in the second. Record shows that India have never lost to these two sides. But Nobbs adds a word of caution. “Given the way the game has developed in the two countries, they won't be pushovers,” he said.

Before the `real action' begins, India skipper, Bharat Chetri opined that matches against these two teams would give his side the opportunity to settle down. “The first two matches will be like training sessions for us. We plan to utilise them to prepare for tougher matches,” Chhetri said after Thursday's practice session.

According to a report in TOI, South Africa’s Pietie Coetzee said that the retirement had made her more mature. Coetzee had bid adieu to hockey in 2005 after the Champions Challenge to concentrate on her studies and professional career. But the 33-year-old returned after five years, got back to her goal-scoring ways and last year set the world record for most number of goals.  “Hockey is not a professional sport in South Africa and somewhere down the line I lost the motivation and energy to play,” Pietie said. “In 2010, the coach asked me if I would like to consider getting back. And I just got back to playing. At first I had to lose a lot of weight to get fitter, and had to do a lot of running. The body feels great now,” Coetzee said.

The freezing of funds by Sports Authority of India just a day ahead of the national football team’s departure to Dubai has left the All India Football Federation miffed and all at sea.   While the Federation is complaining it hasn’t got anything in writing from the SAI, Authority director-general Desh Deepak Verma told TOI: “The Dubai camp and the two friendlies that India are going to play are not part of the approved Long Term Development Programme (LTDP). We are not obliged to send anything writing in this case.”

The issue is set to be taken to the sports ministry now. The AIFF is going to approach Ajay Maken, the sports minister, who is abroad but will be back in the country on Friday.

On a day when almost all the Indian archers performed well, Indian men's recurve team members, excluding Jayanta Talukdar, failed to live up to expectations on the opening day of the four-day Asian Grand Prix archery tournament at Bangkok on Thursday, says  The Hindu report.
As a team, the Indians finished third overall with 1,972 points behind Korea (2,001) and Malaysia (1,989). The women's recurve side, comprising L. Bombayla Devi, Deepika Kumar and Chekrovolu Swuro, finished first with 1,932 points.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev Rajput produced a high-quality performance in the final to pip a resurgent Sushil Ghaley in the free rifle prone event of the 12th all-India Kumar Surendra Singh shooting championship at the Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Thursday, says a report in The Hindu.

On a day when Vijay Kumar added the centre fire pistol gold to his rapid fire crown, it was left to another Olympic quota holder, Rajput, to showcase his skill. Though the Navy marksman enjoyed a two-point lead over the Army marksman, Rajput needed to be at his best in the climactic stages. He rose to the occasion with a score of 104.5 in the final when all but one of his 10 shots hit 10. In fact, Rajput, who won his Olympic quota place with a gold in the 3-posiiton event in a World Cup last year, finished strongly with two 10.7s.