It is the most open men’s tournament in the last five editions, according to former India captain

Former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha believes the Indian team has a realistic chance of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Evaluating the chances of the Indian men’s team, Rasquinha pointed to the improvement of the team led by Manpreet Singh.

“This is the best chance for a medal in the last 20 years. Our last chance was in Sydney 2000 when we narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals. This team played really well. They have improved gradually and steadily and have beaten all the top teams in the last four-year Olympic cycle.

First goal

“The first goal should be to get out of the pool for the quarter-finals. We’re not going to get an easy quarter-final game, ”said Rasquinha, who will be part of Sony Sports studio’s live show Sports Extraaa for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics starting July 23. The Hindu Tuesday.

Rasquinha enjoyed the team coached by Graham Reid. “There is a lot of freshness, enthusiasm and hard racing. A lot on the fitness lines. Players can adapt to different positions. It is without a doubt a very good team.

Former midfielder Rasquinha praised India’s current liaison men. “With Manpreet leading the midfield, he’s the hub, he’s the guy with unlimited energy and is the bridge between defense and offense. Vivek Sagar Prasad is a cunning midfielder. Lots of depth in midfield and they’re going to play a big role. “

Rasquinha said PR Sreejesh and Manpreet deserved to win an Olympic medal for their long service in Indian hockey.

“This is the most open men’s hockey tournament of the last five Olympics. There is no clear favorite. Any of the top seven-eight teams can win gold. If India is playing well consistently under pressure, you have to have six-seven very good regular matches, they can win that medal.

Rasquinha said the women’s team has been getting in good shape lately. “I see them doing weight training regularly. Now they are able to match the Europeans who play a tough body game with a lot of tight scoring. “

Inspirational leader

Rasquinha said women’s team captain Rani Rampal should inspire the team. “Rani is a great leader, also an incredible scorer under pressure. Much depends on his shoulder. She has to inspire the whole front line. She can’t do it alone.

Rasquinha, who works for Olympic Gold Quest, praised the synergy between government agencies and NGOs to support athletes bound for Tokyo.