Indian women's hockey coach holds the semifinal above all

Sjoerd Marijne, coach of the Indian women's hockey team said that a semifinal is more important to him than a beautifully played 20-goal match.

Sjoerd Marijne, chief coach of the Indian women's hockey team, with captain Rani Rampal at the SAI in Bengaluru on June 01, 2018. (FILE PHOTO)   -  Special Arrangement

For more than half hour, Thailand did the unthinkable, keeping the Indian women’s hockey team from scoring in its last Pool B match. In the end, the Indians struck four in the final quarter for a 5-0 win but it was far from the dominant form the team had displayed so far in the tournament.

Coach Sjoerd Marijne couldn’t care less. “You always want to score 15-20 goals but you also know you have to play the semifinals and the players are also protecting themselves. Let’s not talk about concerns on the basis of this match. We play a match which is not important, we did a lot of things wrong, the concentration level was not so high because we are busy with the semis,” he said categorically.

READ: Asiad Hockey: Indian women crush Korea 4-1, book semis spot

It made sense but with the match scheduled in extreme heat and humidity and the girls unwilling to exert themselves, it was an indifferent India that took to the field. There was hardly any movement from the players and whatever little moves the team created were wasted early on. Against a team ranked 28th in the world and largely disconnected and clueless, there were six penalty corners but little power in the flicks. Thailand goalkeeper Alisa Narueangram also brought off some impressive saves.

“You have to be realistic. What is more important -- winning 20-0 with a beautiful game or playing the semifinals? I think the second. If we make 20 goals today and some girls get hit or get pain and cannot play the semis, would that be ok?” Marijne asked.

The good news for India was the return of captain Rani Rampal after missing the previous two games as a precaution against injury. “She must come in the rhythm for the semis and that’s why she played today and also scored thrice. Her return will make us stronger. The confidence is high from the girls and we are ready for the semis,” Marijne said. Monika and Navjot Kaur scored the other two goals. India would now await the loser of the Japan-Malaysia match later in the day in the semifinals.

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