Head coach Craig Fulton admitted the Indian men’s hockey team’s penalty corner conversion rate in the drawn match against Japan is concerning but assured that his side is not far away from finishing things perfectly.
India managed to score only one goal off 15 penalty corners in the 1-1 draw against reigning Asian Games champion Japan at the Asian Champions Trophy on Friday.
It was a contrasting display compared to the host’s convincing 7-2 triumph over China in the opener, where six of the goals came through the corners.
“It’s every coach’s concern if you are not converting your chances, whether corners or field goals. So, you always try to work out ‘why?’ and try to find a solution for that and combinations of players together,” Fulton said at the post-match press conference.
“It’s not that we are not playing in our system. We are playing the way we want to play, and even tonight (Friday), we had two-three really good counters. We are one phase away from finishing the way we want to.” However, Fulton gave due credit to the Japanese for defending well and making India toil to attain success through corners and even field goals.
“Japan defended and attacked well. They were moving well. At half-time, we regrouped. We showed in the following quarters how we got back into the game. They also defended their penalty corners well.”
“We didn’t convert (our corners), but not for lack of trying. It’s a good lesson, and we will go again,” he added.
It was also noted against Japan that the Indians mainly focused on gaining the penalty corners inside the box and refrained from taking regular shots at the goal.
However, Fulton backed his players to decide at that given point in time and was delighted that his side won several corners and created enough goal-scoring chances.
“It’s situational. We want our players to shoot. They have the license to shoot. They make the next best decision on instinct about what’s in front of them, and we back that.”
“The fact that we are winning a lot of corners is good. We have had a few shots. But we are still in the tournament. We got a draw out of this game.
“Of course, we wanted to win it and had enough chances. It’s not a nice feeling, but we have got to get better and be ready for the next game,” he concluded.
We are under no pressure, says Harmanpreet Singh
India’s forward line was guilty of wasting plenty of chances as ace drag flicker and skipper Harmanpreet Singh emerged as the home team’s lone goal-scorer of the match.
Asked if there was any pressure on him or his team to convert penalty corners into goals, Harmanpreet said, “We have no pressure.”
“We keep trying to put and do our best. (Japan’s) defence was good. We were following the instructions that we received. So, we know what we need to do in the next tie (against Malaysia).
“We will try to attack the areas that gave us goals in the opening game (vs China). We would also try something new,” he signed off.
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