Olympic atmosphere is very different from test games: Former hockey captain Zafar Iqbal
New Delhi, July 5, 2021
Former captain Zafar Iqbal has cautioned the Indian hockey team against being complacent because he feels that Olympics is totally different from other tournaments.
“The (men’s) team is ranked 4th in the world which in itself is a great achievement. I kept an eye on their performances in the tour against Argentina, where they played well. I just have to say that the Olympic atmosphere is very different from test games,"he said.
Writing in Hockey India's Flashback Series, the ace left winger of his era, said, "There is no room for any slip-ups or experiments here, and self-belief and self-determination in each player are going to be the most valuable traits for the team."
Also known as the "Gentleman of Hockey", Zafar Iqbal was the flag- bearer of the Indian contingent in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He also led the team as captain that year.
Going down memory lane, Zafar Iqbal fondly recalled the memories of the Team’s Olympic gold medal-winning campaign in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
“The memory of 1980 will remain with me forever. It was more than a personal achievement as it was such a big moment for the country as well. It was the 8th gold medal in hockey for the country, which is a record that will surely stand for a long, long time."
“It was a tough campaign for us because most of the members in that team were young players and debutants at the Olympics. I believe only Vasudevan Baskaran and Bir Bahadur Chhetri had played in the 1976 Olympics previously. I remember that the final against Spain was a really difficult match. Mohammed Shahid was our key player in the final, and he played extraordinarily that day.”
Another encounter he reconstructed was that against Pakistan in 1982 Champions Trophy. "I still remember the 1982 Champions trophy encounter against Pakistan in Holland. We were trailing 0-3 against our rivals in the early phase of that game, and we staged a huge comeback to win that game 5-4 in the end.
“Rajinder Singh Jr. scored 3 goals in that game to lead us to a memorable win. That was a beautiful feeling," Zafar added