A series of below par performances earned India a sixth place in the Hockey World League (HWL) in Rotterdam and shrunk its scope of making it to next year’s World Cup.
Considering the fact that World Cup’s host, the Netherlands has finished among the top-three (which automatically qualify) and Australia and New Zealand (one of which is likely to qualify as the Oceania champion) are within the best four finishers, a top-five slot would have made India a potential candidate to make the cut for the showpiece event. Now, India has to take the tough road to win the Asia Cup, to be held in Ipoh (Malaysia) in August, and book a berth in the mega event.
The performance of the team in the HWL was a big let down and some former players were disappointed with the effort.
Moscow Olympics gold medallist M.K. Kaushik pointed out a few areas of concern. “Our performance should have been better and we should have qualified. We conceded easy goals. In counterattacks, we were caught on the wrong foot.
“Penalty corner defence was not good. We also lacked in the shifting of the forward line.” Kaushik said the team needed to improve on these areas in order to win the Asia Cup.
Another Olympic gold medallist, Harbinder Singh, too did not find India’s performance up to the mark. “There were a lot of loopholes in the defence. The opposition players in our circle were left unmarked. The reason behind this was we took more time to recover after pushing for an attack.”
The Indian women’s team, consisting of a lot of youngsters, finished seventh and would also have to win the Asia Cup, in Kuala Lumpur in September, to make it to the World Cup.