Bhubaneswar, November 30: India may have a negative head-to-head record in international tournaments against all their opponents of the Hockey World League Final, but chief coach Sjoerd Marijne does not want to dwell in the past and has asked his players to "believe in yourself".
Marijne, who took over the team just two months back after the sacking of legendary Roelant Oltmans, though knows it easier said than done. "What happened in the past we can't change but what will happen in the future we can change. We have to learn things from the past to get better in the future and that's our goal.
Team India will kickstart their Odisha Men’s #HWL2017 campaign with a showdown against a strong Australian unit on 1st Dec.— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 30, 2017
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"It's about the mindset and belief. You have to believe that you can win and the team is doing that. We will have to show that on the pitch. It will not be easy but we are up for the challenge," said the Dutchman when asked about India's disappointing international record against other seven participating teams of the HWL Final.
India will have to fight it out against top teams like Australia, Netherlands, Germany, England, Belgium, Argentina and Spain in the HWL final, beginning here on Friday (December 1). The hosts have inferior international record against all these teams. But for Marijne, who guided India to the Asia Cup title in his first assignment as coach, it is important to be realistic and be battle ready.
"The team is realistic and I am also a very realistic person. That's really good that we are in one line. That means that we really want to raise the bar every time and that is what we want to do tomorrow (against Australia). We won the Asia Cup but we now have an opportunity to do better than the Asia Cup. We know we have to do better to perform well here," the coach said.
India will open their campaign against the title holders and world no.2 Australia in Pool B on Friday and the coach said his boys are up for the challenge. "We are really looking forward to play the first match. We worked for a month for this match. The intensity will be high. We are looking forward to compete against the no.2 in the world. It's a challenge and that's how we see it.
"What was really important for us was to make our structure perfect. We don't need more time for this tournament, we are ready," he Marijne.
India will be fielding a mix of youth and experience for the HWL Final, including as many as four players from last year's Junior World Cup-winning squad. Marijne said that the youngsters already have enough experience to perform at the highest level.
His only advice to them is to "embrace nervousness instead of fight against it". "The final of the Junior World Cup that was the most important thing in their (juniors) life. So they had the experience there. They have played in the Holland tour (earlier this year). They had the Asia Cup experience where they also played in the final. In one year they have experienced a lot of things.
"Of course in the beginning they will be nervous but it's normal and that's what I am teaching them. You have to embrace that (nervousness) than fight against it. It's about how you deal with things individually," he said.
India captain Manpreet Singh will be playing his landmark 200th international match on Friday at the age of only 25 and he was excited to achieve the feat on his home turf. "It was a long journey for me. I am completing my 200th international match tomorrow and I am very excited that it is happening in front of the home crowd," he said.