'Five goals were gifts to Kiwis'

Dejected India look for consolation fifth place

India, who share with Australia the record of winning the Azlan Shah Cup five times, came into the tournament with the hopes of completing a hat-trick of titles after winning outright in 2009 and being joint champions with South Korea in 2010.

But they fell out of medal contention after successive losses to Pakistan and New Zealand in their last two outings.

“We came so close to finishing on the podium, and then we threw it all away,” said Indian chief coach Harendra Singh, who joined other coaches and team manager Balbir Singh, on Friday morning for a session with the players in trying to lift their morale.

“We played two good games, and they were against teams like Britain and Australia, but they way we gifted goals to New Zealand yesterday does raise a few pertinent questions,” said Harendra, still not able to come out of the shattering blow delivered by New Zealand, who scored five goals in the second session to outplay India 7-3.

“We’re aware that the players are dejected at their display. Five of the seven goals yesterday were virtual gifts presented to the opposition,” said Harendra.

Harendra said the Indian team has to learn from this performance. “As players we need to see why we’re repeating the same mistakes. It became almost like a repeat show ... the same mistakes, in the same situation at the same time in the match,” Harendra said.

The way the Indian defence crumbled on Thursday was a repeat of some earlier matches in this tournament, when they squandered the gains of a good show in the first session.

It was only in the match against Britain which India won 3-1 that they did not allow too many gaps in their defence.

India will not know who their opponents will be in Sunday’s match for the fifth and sixth positions.

This will only be known only after Saturday’s fixtures are completed.

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