New Delhi: Returning to the ground after a well-deserved two months break, captain of the Indian hockey team Sardar Singh feels fitness will be key to their success in the FIH World League semi-finals to be held at Rotterdam, Netherlands from June 13 to 23.
After a much-needed rest, the Indian hockey players have assembled at Bangalore to kick-start their preparations for the forthcoming FIH World League semifinals.
"The break was a must as we have played continuously for past few months. Hockey India League was a long tournament where a lot of travelling was involved. This was a well-deserved break and now we are ready to face challenges ahead," Sardar told PTI Bhasha.
"We will face top teams like Netherlands, Australia and Spain and to match them in speed, we have to work really hard on fitness. We have to improve several aspects of our game."
India will play Australia, host Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand and Ireland in the first semi-final of the World League. The other semi-final will be played in Johor Bahru , Malaysia from June 29 to July 7 where Germany, Argentina, Malaysia, England, South Africa, Korea and Pakistan will compete.
Sardar said the 34 players, who have been called for the national camp in Bangalore, are fully fit and raring to go. "Some seniors including me were given a long break but those who were a part of the Azlan Shah Cup were on rest for a fortnight only. Our trainer (Jason Conrath) had advised us to not even touch the stick during the break. We are following him and started light exercise and gym sessions in the camp."
The first phase of the camp runs till April 26 and after that the players will be given a two-week rest. They will reassemble in Bangalore again after the break and the camp will continue till their departure for Rotterdam.
Asked about Hockey India's High Performance Manager Roelant Oltmans' role, Sardar said, "He is working with all the national teams including men's senior, junior and women's senior and junior teams. He is immensely experienced and we will like to learn more and more from him."