Asian Games 2018: ‘Road to Olympics a lot bumpier’ – India men’s hockey coach Harendra Singh
Indian hockey team coach Harendra Singh rued the errors his team made in their 6-7 loss to Malaysia asking that this loss has only made the road to the 2020 Olympics a lot tougher.
India the defending champions who have in red-hot form so far at the Asian Games were defeated by Malaysia in sudden death after the regulation time saw them levelled at 2-2.
Regretting the fact that his team has missed the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, Harendra, as quoted by The Indian Express said, “Malaysia are the deserving winners. We committed too many unforced errors and paid the price. We did not keep things simple. We tried to show our Indian skills and by doing that we lost the momentum. It is a big setback for Indian hockey. The road to the Olympics is a lot bumpier now. We missed the easiest chance to qualify.”
Incidentally, India’s run at the Asian Games 10 years ago in Guangzhou was halted by none other than Malaysia and Harendra, when asked as to why the same opponents turn out to be the roadblock that India fails to go through, he said, “They were only looking to score on the counter and both their goals came from the counter.”
“We had a plan to shift and pass but we tried to hold the ball and made parallel passes. That cost us the game. Also, we committed too many unforced errors. It is unpardonable,” he added further.
But he said his team wasn’t to be blamed in the shoot-out.
Highlighting the unpredictability of a shoot-out, he said, “Shootout is anybody’s game. If we would have won, we should not have celebrated. In the shoot-out, turning around is a problem. If your center of gravity is low then it is easier (to turn around), if it is high then it becomes a problem.”
The Indian team steamrolled past their opponents in the group stages, scoring a record 76 goals but Hardness feels that this feat didn’t make give his team an element of complacency.
“I don’t think so (that India was complacent), we took them as serious practice matches. We never take any team lightly. But this loss is a setback for Indian hockey. Coaches will come and go.”
The Indian team nonetheless still needs to battle for the bronze medal.
Said Harendra, “The boys will have to pick themselves up. There is still a medal at stake.”