By Sandip Sikdar
New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS): Triple Olympic medallist Matthew Wells of Australia sees a lot of depth in Indian hockey and believes the eight-time Olympic champions will soon be competing against the best.
Wells, who was part of the Australian hockey team that won the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medal, feels that Indian hockey is now quite exciting, having seen and played against them for 15 years.
“Indian hockey is very exciting at the moment. I just think they are slowly getting better. Over the last 15 years I have seen quite a few India sides, but there is depth now. Obviously, they have not got the results they are looking for, but they will come soon and they will be competing against the best,” Wells, who is here as the manager of the Australian side playing in the Hockey Junior World Cup, told IANS.
“India has got a lot of young guys. It is fantastic to watch the amount of talent India has. With this kind of talent, they should be pushing themselves harder than they have ever pushed before and if they don’t, they won’t make the next level,” added the Tasmanian, who also won bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Like Wells, experts often talk about the abundance of talent India has but he reasons out why the team is not producing the results.
"See technically and individually they are very good, as good as anybody in the world. All they need to do is to be more disciplined tactically. They need to play as a team rather than showing individual brilliance. A well-knit team can take on the best in the business,” said the 35-year-old.
“When they can get their act together, they will be a very hard team to stop. I believe they are a bit too individualistic, but it is slowly changing. The culture is definitely changing and they are working a lot harder, the change can be seen and they should be up there soon,” added the defender, who is the only member of the Kookaburras to have played in each of the medal winning teams from Sydney to the Beijing Olympics.
Asked if there is any Indian player who has impressed him, the Australian said forward Mandeep Singh is very stirring to watch.
“I like watching Mandeep upfront. He is young and has had a few games out there. He is quite exciting and is the one I would like to watch. I watched him in the Hockey India League (HIL) earlier this year for the first time and he was quite exciting,” said Wells.
Mandeep was central to the Ranchi Rhinos winning the title at the inaugural HIL in February.