December 12, 2016 9:47:04 pm
India might have finished their pool engagements with an all-win record but their performance against South Africa today was far from impressive with the team’s head coach Harendra Singh terming the display as a wake-up call for his wards ahead of the knockout stages of the men’s Junior Hockey World Cup here.
All but through to the quarterfinals, India were made to work hard to register a fighting 2-1 win over South Africa in their final Pool D match and keep their unbeaten run intact in the 16-nation tournament.
Harendra was critical about his wards’ performance today.
“Nothing was missing but we just did not play simple hockey today. But the good thing is that it has happened before the knockout stages,” he said.
“I was not surprised with South Africa’s performance but I was surprised with our performance because we did not play to our potential after the first 15 minutes. I always say that I don’t think about opponents, I am always concerned about our own methods. We play simple one-touch hockey and that is what we should play,” he said.
The coach, however, was satisfied with the fact that they could pulled off a win.
“We missed a couple of chances but if we look at the possession of the ball, circle penetrations I think we were superior. We have to work on a few areas, but overall I feel we played well. But I am happy that we could sustain the momentum,” Harendra said.
Indian men’s senior hockey team chief coach Roelant Oltmans, who is the manager of the junior side here, cannot afford to disagree with Harendra.
“My glass is always half full. The first 15 minutes we played very well and after that the energy level went a bit down but still we created a couple of number of opportunities. The little link was missing today but it is part of sports which happens with every team.
“Looking at the number of circle penetrations and possession of the ball we deserved to win but we could have done a little bit better. We know we have to be better in the next round, there is no doubt,” Oltmans said.
“One thing for sure is that we can’t afford to play like this in the knockout stages. I just wonder after such a good start today why all of a sudden we started doing things which is completely not according to our plans,” he said.
The Dutchman called the Indian colts to use their brains a bit more and stick to their game plan instead of trying too many things.
“The most important thing is to stick to our game plan and to be honest I feel we did not do that enough today. But that’s a lesson for the next match.
“If we would have used a little bit more brain, we could have scored more goals and that is what we have to learn. If you can close the game we should close it. We should not give our opportunity to come back into the game,” Oltmans said.
Oltmans said going into the knockout stage, the hosts can’t afford to be complacent at any point of time.
“We made it clear to them (players) not to take the game lightly. We prepared ourselves very well for this game. After the first goal it became a bit sloppy and there was less energy and that was the disappointment for me,” he said.
Indian captain Harjeet Singh, who scored the first goal for his side, said they did not stick to their game plan today which made it difficult for them against less-fancied South Africans.
“We started off well and were playing simple hockey but after scoring the goal we all started to play individual hockey, no one was passing the ball and so we faced problems,” he said.
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