NEW DELHI: Germany’s star forward Christopher Ruhr on Thursday heaped praise on the Indian hockey team, saying the 2014 Asian Games champions are one of the best contenders for a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The two-time World Junior Player of the Year said India can also win the 2018 World Cup because the prestigious tournament will take place in India and it could give extra advantage to the hosts.
“I think India and (2016 Olympic champions) Argentina developed most of all among the big hockey nations over the past 2-3 years. I like the style India plays and I think they are a huge competitor for winning an Olympic medal in 2020,” Ruhr, who was part of Germany’s team that won the bronze medal in 2016 Rio Games, said in a release.
“Also a medal at the World Cup in 2018 – especially because the World Cup takes place in India and the crowds in India are always amazing, which gives the home team another percentage point in motivation,” he added.
Considered as one of the most devastating forwards in the world, the 23-year-old, who was recruited by former champions Ranchi Rays for a whopping $75,000 for his Hockey India League (HIL) debut, has enjoyed tremendous success while playing in India.
Apart from the 2013 Junior World Cup title here, Ruhr also featured in Germany’s team in the 2014 Champions Trophy-winning team in Bhubaneswar.
Ruhr said he has been looking forward to playing in the Indian league ever since the German team lifted the Junior world title at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.
“I am super excited to play in the HIL. Since I played the Junior World Cup in Delhi, I have been dreaming about playing in this country in front of the unbelievable crowds in each stadium. We don’t have big crowds very often, when we play in Germany or Europe,” said Ruhr.
“I can’t wait to play with and against so many world class players and experience the hockey and the country itself,” he added.
He also reckoned that the HIL stint will help his career at this stage when Germany prepare for the World Hockey League semi-final and final competitions to be held this year.
Ruhr was the leading goal-scorer with six goals at the previous Hockey World League (HWL) semi-final in Buenos Aires – which Germany won – and further scored three goals in the 2015 Hero Hockey World League Final in Raipur.
“Playing in the HIL will help me a lot for my career because I am going to see so many different styles of hockey and can adapt them to my game to make it more and more unpredictable,” said the Dusseldorf native in Germany.
Ranchi Rays will begin their camp in Mumbai next week where they play their first match of the edition on January 21 against Dabang Mumbai.