Bhubaneswar: Indian men’s hockey team are set to play two matches against Russia in Olympic Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium here November 1-2 and Odisha star Amit Rohidas said these matches will be must win encounters for the home team.
“This is our last chance to qualify for Tokyo Games. So we have to win. We have played them before. We are watching their videos and practicing accordingly. We are confident that we’ll do well against Russia,” said the Indian defender.
Notably, India had handed the Russians a 0-10 thrashing when the last time they met at the Hockey World Series earlier this year at the Kalinga Stadium.
“It’s true that we defeated them with such a huge margin. But that doesn’t mean that we will stay relaxed. It’s also their last chance (to qualify for Tokyo). So they would also have done their homework by watching our match videos. They will leave no stone unturned when they face us again. So we are expecting a good fight,” said the 26-year-old.
India are coming into the Qualifiers after winning all the five matches of Belgium tour where they defeated the Belgians in three matches before beating Spain twice.
“The Tour was very important for us before such crucial matches (against Russia). It’s a huge positive we won all the matches. However, we pointed out some mistakes that we did in the tour and now we are rectifying the errors and hopefully our practice turns fruitful against Russia,” Amit exuded hope.
Speaking of their wins over the World Champions Belgium, the local lad said: “Defeating the World Champions is morale boosting, but those were test matches and it requires different mentality. However, we learned a lot by playing such big teams. Hopefully we can execute them properly against Russia.”
Amit however, denied to comment on the exclusion of the other state star Birendra Lakra, saying “I don’t know what’s going on but it’s selection committee’s call so I can’t comment much in this regard.”