With the 2nd Hero Hockey India League carnival over, the focus will now shift to the national team’s preparations for the 2014 Rabobank World Cup slated to be held in The Haque, the Netherlands from May 31 to June 15. And Hockey India in a bid to give the boys the best possible preparation has lined up a nine-day exposure tour at the very venue where the big-ticket event will be held.
The Blueshirts will train at Hague from April 11 to 19. The modalities of the tour have also been worked out – the team will play around five-six games during their Dutch stint.
It is learnt that Hockey India was keen to have such an exposure trip going and even withdrew from the 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from March 13-23. India are likely to play top European teams like Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and one or two local club teams during their nine-day tour.
It is believed that Hockey India also wants to ensure that the boys stay fresh ahead of the World Cup and not overworked preparation-wise – probably learning from their past experience of having exhaustive preparations on the eve of the 2012 London Olympics, where the country capped its worst-ever performance settling for an ignominious wooden spoon.
The performance at the London Olympics had raised uncomfortable questions about whether the team was a ‘jaded’ lot after a gruelling European tour.