Oltmans defends India's misfiring forwards

Oltmans defends India's misfiring forwards
With just two goals so far at the Hockey World League Final, a misfiring forward line has been India’s biggest concern at the Raipur event.

Playing a 4-3-3 formation in the three games so far, the striking line that consist of Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh and SV Sunil, seems to have let the team down with their poor ball control and trapping skills.

But the Indian coach Roelant Oltmans believes that it was harsh to blame the strikers alone for his sides’ poor record in the ‘goals for’ coloumn in the points table.

“It’s simple to say that (blame the forwards alone). But we also need to look at the kind of passes they receive,” said Oltmans on the sidelines of his team’s practice at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stadium here.

“Sometimes, though it looks like the forward is not picking up the ball, the pass itself is terrible. It’s bouncy, the direction is not good, the speed is not fine and it seems that the forward makes the mistake.

“The passing style is not good. And that’s something we are looking to improve on. And if you see the last three games, the forwards received bouncy balls, and under pressure, it’s not easy,” he remarked after a session that saw the Indians practice their passing and trapping skills.

It’s not a surprise that India’s poor run has coincided with a disappointing phase in striker Ramandeep Singh’s career, who has been Oltmans main man in attack.

While he is yet to open his account at the tournament, it’s his trapping skills and match temperament that has come under scrutiny here. But the critics’ view has not disturbed the young forward.

“It has been disappointing. But that doesn’t mean the forward line is under any pressure. The best in the world go through such a period,” said a confident Ramandeep.

Except for their game against Argentina where they were thoroughly outplayed, the Indians have had an upper hand in their matches for a long period.

In their tie against Germany, the Indians were at their attacking best. Enjoying 61 percent of the possession, the Sardar Singh-led side had 12 shots on goal – as compared to Germany’s nine -- of which one found the back of the net to earn them a hard fought draw.

Meanwhile against the Netherlands, they took their attacking show to much higher level with 64 percent possession and 15 shots on target. However, the numbers were the only thing that favoured India as the Dutch scored three from their eight shots on target, while the Indians could convert just one of their strikes.

“Like I said, it’s always disappointing when your side doesn’t convert the chances. More than the misfiring forwards, not being consistent enough is my biggest problem,” opined the Dutch coach.

“We have been good in certain phases. And we created these chances in those phases. But the most important thing is we need to be patient and take more time when we execute our plans. Too many times we lose possession somewhere during the attack. And we lose a lot of energy in winning the ball back, the same energy is needed when we are in the final third,” he added.

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