Y.B. Sarangi

NEW DELHI: India coach Jose Brasa is not too excited about the host's performance in the hockey World Cup. India finished 11th in the previous edition and on Friday it will take on Argentina in the contest for the seventh and eighth places.

“It is a normal result, not good, not excellent. I am sad,” Brasa said. “I had said that semifinal will be a dream and if we finish 5th it will be a good result. Finishing seventh or eighth means, it is normal. We are just improving,” he said.

The Spaniard expected that India would beat Argentina to bag the seventh place. “If we lose, I will be sad. In (Champions Challenge) Salta, we had beaten them for the bronze medal. We will have a tough match like any other match in the World Cup,” he said.

Captain Rajpal Singh said India should beat Argentina comprehensively to prove its improvement. He said the team had high expectations from experienced forward Deepak Thakur. “He has done well for the country in the past, I hope he does well tomorrow,” Rajpal said.

Brasa, however, defended Thakur even though the striker was not fully fit. “He has a good brain which is helpful for the team. His leadership and belief in himself are the factors which help other players,” the coach said.

“It is a mathematical way to say that we won one and drew one. But one should look about the way the team has played. We played in a very open and attacking way and we played well,” he said.

The coach said the side could not become a world beater overnight. “Things cannot be changed just like that. We have not been allowed to change a lot of things. We have improved by changing a few things. We will improve more if we change more,” he said.

He said the team must play exposure matches against elite sides before big tournaments.

Talking about the players' strike in Pune just a few weeks before the World Cup, Brasa said, “The strike was good for the players. It has got the team together. I had said this in Pune before all the television cameras,” Brasa stressed, indicating that the unified side returned a decent result.

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