US coach lavishes praise on India

The United States coach John Hackworth once again was effusive in praise of the Indian boys. He even had special words of praise for Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, but stressed that his team was capable of doing much better than their 3-0 victory.

Asked whether they planned to “kill” the game in the first 20 minutes by fielding four forwards, Hackworth said: “Plan to kill the game in the first 20 minutes? Not at all. That’s credit to India for making it hard to get behind them. They were a tough opponent. We didn’t play great. We can play much better. You have to break down an opponent and our execution wasn’t great on the final play.”

“We opted to play long diagonal balls. The idea was that the opposition had five defenders and nine players behind the ball. There was no space to play through. The long diagonal though didn’t get us that goal in the first 20 minutes.”

Hackworth felt Dheeraj was exceptional on Friday night. “The goalkeeper made several saves in the opening 20 minutes. He was exceptional on the night. If he wouldn’t have made those saves, the game would have opened up. One save was off Josh Sargent and he doesn’t miss many. In the second half, we made some tactical adjustment which allowed us more space to play. Durkin finished from a corner-kick and I must say that he doesn’t usually finish as well as he did today,” he said.

“I think both their centre-backs (Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh) played well. None of the balls that we put into the box especially in the opening 20 minutes, we didn’t think they would win as many balls.

The 47-year-old admitted India exceeded their expectations. “I thought they played really well. I would give them tons of credit,” he said.

“I think India exceeded our expectations. They were hard to break down. They were difficult to contain on the counter. I was impressed with their team.”


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