India to kick off campaign against Holland

India's hockey team will face Holland today in their first match at the Athens Olympics.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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India's hockey team will begin its quest today to win its first medal at the Olympics in 24 years. In their opening match today, the Indians will face defending champions Holland. It will be tough contest for the Indian team which has had a terrible year both on and off the field. Recent debacle Indian Hockey hit an all-time low as they suffered a humiliating 6-1 defeat to arch rivals Pakistan at the four nation Rabobank Trophy in Holland earlier this year. India finished the tournament without a win. They conceded 17 goals in four games. The failure in the Rabobank Trophy led the Indian Hockey Federation to replace coach Rajinder Singh. IHF appointed Germany's Gerhard Rach as chief coach and two assistant coaches - Oliver Kurtz and Jagbir Singh. Rough patch But it's been not just one bad tournament. India, which has played in nine tournaments so far this year, finished second in three of these nine events. India has won just 13 games out of a total of 40 played this year. The low point was the tennis like 6-1 defeat against Pakistan. But the only bright spot was a recent 3-3 draw against Germany. India begin their Olympic campaign with a tough first match against defending champions Holland. Statistics favour the Dutch Statistics are in favour of the Dutch. India hasn't beaten Holland in the last five games they have played. India's record at the Olympics since the gold medal win in 1980 has been very average. They finished in the fifth place in 1984 at Los Angeles followed by three consecutive finishes outside the top 5 positions. In 1996 at Atlanta, Indian hockey put up its worst showing ever as they finished eighth out of the 12 teams.