‘We deserved to win but missed chances’

Although pleased with the team’s progress on the pitch, national men’s hockey coach Harendra Singh is disappointed with India’s defeat to Australia in the final of the Champions Trophy.

India lost to Australia on penalties in Breda on Sunday, with the scores tied 1-1 in regulation time. “Reaching the final was good but the entire team is disheartened with the way in which we lost,” Harendra said on Thursday.

“We deserved to win but we missed some chances to wrap it up in normal time. Before the tournament, I had told the boys: ‘India has not won the Champions Trophy before. This is a chance to get yourselves into the history books.’ We came close.”

India had improved with its circle penetrations, Harendra felt.

“Even in the Commonwealth Games, we were making circle penetrations; it’s just that we were not converting them. In all the team meetings, I told the players that we were on par with the best sides in the world in terms of skill and fitness. We only needed to improve mentally and play smart hockey. We had to attack and defend as a team and we did improve in that regard.”

Pleased for seniors

Harendra was pleased with the performance of seniors Sardar Singh and Ramandeep Singh, both of whom had been recalled after being left out of the CWG squad.

“If you look at the FIFA World Cup, the teams that are doing well are the ones with a good blend of youth and experience. That’s what we tried to achieve as well. I feel the seniors really pulled their socks up and delivered. As a team, we played entertaining hockey that the whole hockey world appreciated.”

India’s next target is a gold medal at the Asian Games, set to begin in Indonesia in August.

“We need to improve in certain areas before that,” Harendra stated. “Our penalty corner attacks must improve. And we must score in every quarter.”

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