New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) Former Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chetri believes both the current men's and women's hockey teams have some of the best players in the world, adding that they have the ability to end the medal drought at next year's Tokyo Olympic Games.
"We have the best players in the world, and in my opinion, both the teams are quite similar in their composition - given we have both Savita and PR Sreejesh as our experienced goalkeepers, and then a steady defense ahead of them," Bharat was quoted as saying by Hockey India.
"Midfield and attack for both the teams is quite potent, lively, efficient and effective, with the right mixture of youth and experience in our ranks. Having worked with both the teams and watched them from close quarters, I feel the current teams are probably the best in terms of their fitness, their style of play and the coordination.
"When I had seen their coordination on and off the field, it makes me feel so happy because somehow I felt that this level of coordination was something that was lacking in our teams of the past which perhaps was one of the reasons we have been unable to perform exceptionally on occasions," he added.
According to the former Indian captain, since the London Olympics, both the teams have made considerable amount of improvement in their games.
"We always had the talent and the opportunity to take that step forward as a team, but the other teams were ahead of us in their respective Olympic processes, and I think we always ended up lacking that authority and edge in big matches.
"Over the past eight years since the London Olympics, I think there has been considerable improvement in our game, and the credit for that also needs to go to all the players and coaches who have been involved, and also Hockey India for doing a great job in providing the best facilities and infrastructure to its athletes to train and stay during their national camps, and play on tours abroad.
He said during his playing days, it was his dream to help his team win an Olympic medal, but now, as a fan of Indian hockey, he wants the current teams to make a podium finish in Tokyo.
Indian men's hockey team last won a gold medal in Hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish. On the other hand, the Indian eves have never been able to win a medal in the prestigious quadrennial event.
"It is not just a dream, it is a belief which I have seen in our current players also during the times that I have spent with them as the goalkeeping or assistant coach," said Bharat.
"I think the talent that we have in our ranks, along with the top fitness levels, we really have a good chance to perform at our best under the guidance of both the respective chief coaches," he added.