India’s elimination before the quarterfinals at the hockey junior World Cup on Tuesday has expectedly disappointed High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans and the Dutchman made his displeasure clear after the draw against Korea.
“My expectation was that they will at least reach the top eight. Yes I am very disappointed,” Oltmans admitted. “Players need a lot of skills and some luck, but they also need cleverness. Without mind, body is nothing,” he told The Hindu at the National Stadium.
His disappointment was evident from the fact that Oltmans, who always accompanies the team before and after any game, walked out of an unmarked side gate with a friend instead. His being upset was understandable, given that he had to intervene with the training after India scraped through against Canada.
Asked about the positives from the three games so far, Oltmans was blunt in his appraisal. “If you ask me, at this moment, there is nothing positive,” he said. “But I still see a number of very talented players here, which is the most important thing. This is a huge learning experience, maybe too huge for them,” he said.Tricky part
Oltmans agreed that while talent and skills can be improved, cleverness was the tricky part. “We will try to bring that in as well, hopefully,” he said.
With coaches Gregg Clark, Baljeet Saini and goalkeeping coach Dave Staniforth having contracts only till the end of the junior World Cup, the Dutch coaching legend also hinted at a change in coaching personnel. He, however, tried to downplay the players’ errors.
“These boys are 18-19 years old and they can make mistakes of judgment. But when young boys are playing, those who have more experience need to take full responsibility of the team,” Oltmans said, criticising the senior members in the side.
Players like captain Manpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Kothajit Singh have been regulars in the national side for a while and were expected to take charge here but faltered.
“We did not finish the game properly (against Korea). I think we scored a beautiful fourth goal, which was disallowed. In the end, it is all down to a couple of minutes. Manpreet got the green card and they got two goals in those two minutes. That’s what happens in top tournaments — the difference is very small but sometimes these small things make a huge difference, which we saw against Korea,” he said.No drastic changes
Oltmans, however, ruled out any drastic changes in the structure. “We started in a certain direction and the worst thing you can do is to change it completely after one disappointment. We are ranked 11th and let me tell you, we are not the only team in the world training hard to improve,” he said.
Keywords: Junior World Cup hockey tournament