With a win and a loss in the competition so far, the Indian team at the hockey junior World Cup is in a must-win situation ahead of its last league match on Tuesday.
But, given the way the team has performed so far, the team management knows it will be a tough outing against Korea.
Against Canada on Saturday, India missed more than a dozen chances in front of the goal, either because of poor passing or the strikers being out of position.
Coach Gregg Clark minced no words, saying the team needed to work on several areas if it wished to progress.
“We need to be more accurate and have more control, both over the ball and the match. We have conceded soft goals early on to put the team on the back foot.
“It gets very frustrating sitting on the bench at such times,” he admitted.
Clark couldn’t have been more accurate. In the two games, India managed to enter the opposition circle once almost every five minutes. At any point, there were minimum three strikers present in front of the goal. The scorelines, though, don’t reflect that.Talented youngsters
“I personally feel this team has 16 talented youngsters. But they need to show more maturity.
“The Indian team is among the most experienced in the competition and I expected more from players like Manpreet Singh and Amit Rohidas,” said former coach Harendra Singh, who led the team to semi-finals in 2005 before losing out on a medal in tie-break.
“I am more disappointed in them because they have been part of the senior squad for quite some time now.
At this age, it is easy to lose concentration and get restless if things are not going your way. Ensuring that mental toughness is the coach’s job,” he said.
Rajinder Singh, under whom India won its maiden title in the competition in 2001, was less charitable. “I don’t see any planning. There is talent but the players are wasting their energy in marking opponents and running up and down. They seem too desperate to go out and score,” he said.
Harendra agreed. “We are giving too much space from both flanks to the opposition to score. The defence is too open, there is no back-up and we are not forcing the opposition into positions from where we can dictate the game,” he said.Assistant coach Baljeet Saini, part of the team that finished second in 1997, admitted it was frustrating to see opportunities go waste so many times.
“Korea would not give us so many chances to bounce back. The players need to control the ball and the game. The attack needs to be a lot sharper,” he admitted.
Clark had the last word.
“The boys played with a lot of speed and passion but they also need to play with some common sense,” he said.