'There were positives from loss to Belgium'

Dejected he might be after India’s loss to Belgium in their hockey World Cup opener, coach Terry Walsh said the performance was not bad and some “good aspects” of the team’s gameplan came to the fore.

India conceded a match-winner to Belgium just 15 seconds from close to lose 2-3 after keeping their higher-ranked rivals at bay for most part of the match.

They even led midway in the second session, a situation that seemed to have pleased Walsh.

“I would say that we’re now getting competitive against the big teams. Our show’s much better than what we were doing earlier,” said Walsh, asserting that the Indian players need to realise that the score-line is what matters in the end.

“How we play, and how close we finish, the fact is that the scores matter in the end,” he added, extolling his players to realise the difference this last-minute goal made.
India’s opponent in the next outing on Monday will be England, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Spain in their first Group A match.

“There were some good aspects to emerge from our game against Belgium. Having come this far, we should have held on to earn a point, but the last 30 seconds cost us dear,” said Walsh, who took over as India’s coach six months ago.

European Cup silver-medallists Belgium are currently ranked No 5 in the world, which is three places above India, but it was not until the third goal just before the hooter that their coach Marc Lammers could breathe easy.

“India played better then what I’d seen them do previously. They can be troublesome opponents,” said Lammers, a Dutchman under whom The Netherlands women won the 2008 Olympic gold medal at Beijing. Walsh is hopeful of India putting up an improved show against England, who are placed No 4 in the International Hockey Federation rankings.

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