India needs to draw confidence from their Tokyo Olympics campaign and forget the rout at the Commonwealth Games final to claim a podium finish in next year’s men’s hockey World Cup, feels former captain and coach Vasudevan Baskaran.
“I believe they (India) can definitely finish on the podium in Odisha this time. They should move on from the CWG final loss to Australia and ride on the confidence they gained from the Tokyo Olympic Games," said Baskaran, who was the captain of India’s 1980 Olympics gold medal-winning team.
“The team is in the good hands of Graham Reid and the support staff. I believe they have a sure shot at a medal." Baskaran stressed the need to make a positive start against Spain in the World Cup to be jointly hosted by Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29. “If they get past the first hurdle against Spain in a big way, then there is no stopping them from going into medal matches." Eight-time Olympic champions India have won just three medals (bronze in the inaugural, silver in 1973 and gold in 1975) at the World Cup since the event’s inception in 1971.
A member of India’s silver medal-winning side of the 1973 World Cup, Baskaran also recounted his best moments from the showpiece and the incredible support they had received from the Dutch spectators throughout their campaign in that edition.
“The tempo was high and interestingly enough, the Netherlands crowd turned up in big numbers to support us," he told Hockey India’s Flashback Series - World Cup Special.
Baskaran said the semifinal win over arch-rivals Pakistan was India’s most memorable victory from the 1973 edition of the tournament.
“The emotions were so high. The Indo-Pak war of 1971 was fresh in everyone’s mind. Harcharan Singh and Harmik Singh were from Pathankot and they had seen the effects of that war quite closely, so naturally, we had that urge to win against them," the 72-year-old said.
“It was a battle of equals, we had the best forward line and they had incredible defenders. Surjit Singh played his heart out in that game because there were some tense moments against Pakistan’s forward line."