Indian Colts' failure a setback

We did not take our chances and paid the price for it, says coach

India’s failure to make it to the quarterfinals of the Junior World Cup has come as a setback for national hockey.

A lot was expected from the colts, many of whom being viewed to be in the team for the future. The hosts were rated amongst the top contenders in the tournament and comprised of several players who were regulars in the senior ranks.

Hockey India, too, had put an array of support staff behind them for their preparation towards the premier event at home. The team had coaching-cum-support staff of nine members with South African Gregg Clark as the chief coach. The team’s build up to the tournament was monitored by High Performance director with Hockey India and one of the best Dutch coaches in Roelant Oltmans. Never before was a junior side was given such privilege.

Yet, what raised the concern was the manner in which India lost. The team never seemed to recover from their opening match loss against the Netherlands. In all the three matches they played, the hosts had to claw their way into the match. The Indian juniors learned little from their scratchy performance against Canada, where they failed to convert numerous chances which came their way.

Against Korea, too, they struggled to hold their nerves. Clark admitted that India needed to work on their mental ability to avoid such outcomes in future.

“Together, with the technical skill of finishing, one should have the mental ability to keep your mind clear and calm. That's an area we need to work on," said Clark after his side were held to 3-3 draw by Korea and bowed out of the quarterfinal race on Tuesday.
“We did not take our chances when they came and we paid the price for it."

Oltmans agreed with Clark’s observation. “For me, the most disappointing game was against Canada. At top level, when you have the opportunity to score 3-4 goals, you cannot let it slip,” said Oltmans.

“India played very well against Korea to go up 3-1 and were close to make it 4-1. But they should know how to finish the matches and the need to stay calm in final phase.”

Meanwhile, Hockey India took responsibility of the team’s dismal performance. In an emotional text message on Wednesday morning, HI secretary-general Narinder Batra said: “I personally take full responsibility for dismal performance of team India in failing to qualify for the quarterfinals.

“Kindly do not put any blame on the team, the coaching staff and the high performance team. I, as head of all operations in Hockey India, take full responsibility and apologise to the nation, all hockey lovers, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Authority of India for letting them down.”

India now play against Argentina on Thursday for the 9-12 place classification matches.

Quarterfinal line-up: Belgium vs France; Malaysia vs Korea; Australia vs Germany; The Netherlands vs New Zealand.

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