Top-4 finish in London tall ask but not impossible: Ex-players

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Former players on Monday lavished praise on the Indian hockey team and its Australian coach Michael Nobbs for convincingly qualifying for the London Olympics and said a top-four finish in the quadrennial event 'is a tall ask but not impossible' for the eight-time champions.

India put up a superlative performance and routed France 8-1 in the final of the men's Olympic qualifiers here last night to keep a date with the London Games after missing out on the Beijing edition four years ago.

Even though they were gung-ho about the home team's performance in the just-concluded Olympic qualifiers here, the yesteryear stars of the game were unanimous in pointing out that India need to address their grey areas before the London Games in July-August.

"It was an excellent performance from the team. It was heartening to see India play as a team. Full marks to Michael Nobbs for bringing attacking style of hockey back to India. We Indians are used to play attacking hockey, it is our own style," Zafar Iqbal, a member of India's last Olympic gold medal winning team in 1980, told agencies.

"To qualify for the London Olympics is a big boost for the team. We have crossed the first hurdle easily but now the real test starts. They will have to now prepare for the big matches," he said.

Zafar said with a little bit of hard work and determination, India can reclaim their top position in world hockey.

"It would be little too much to expect the team to be number one from the No.10 position in the Olympics, but at least we hope to better our rankings there. If we can put a lot more hard work in the coming months, a top four finish is possible."

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