It was his 200th international and he was commitment personified on the field but India captain Manpreet Singh wasn’t too happy after the match against Australia. He said all the right things but it was clear he was hurting. “Missing chances is normal in hockey but at least Akashdeep tried his best and that’s why he also got the chances,” Manpreet said bluntly when asked to comment on the misfiring forward.
“Hockey is a team game and mistakes are part and parcel of it. We can’t blame anyone or point out one person, everyone gives his best on field” he added. He was justified in feeling bad too. As one of the best players on field and leading from front, Manpreet knew the importance of starting with a win, specially against a defending champion in a tournament of top-eight teams.
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Coach Sjoerd Marijne was more circumspect. “You always want to win but I am always looking for alternatives. I am happy with the overall performance. You have no shots at goal from field play from the No. 2 in the world and I think that’s really good. But we are not satisfied because we wanted to win,” he explained.
He added that there were improvements from the side that played at the Asia Cup and asserted that the one-touch hockey India played looked easy but was not. “The discipline has to be really high. Still there were few moments we gave the ball too easily. We have to improve a few things like we gave away a few easy penalty corners. But I was happy with the organization,” he added. Manpreet added the team would work on its penalty corner conversions.
On the other hand, Australia captain Mark Knowles made no bones about his team not being good enough. “Our quality wasn’t good enough and if you continue like that for a good part of the match, you can pay for it. Our standards and quality were not quite good enough. But we knew one goal is international hockey is nothing, you can always comeback. India are very good on counter-attacks and we expect that,” he said.