Junior WC: India takes on Australia in semis

"We approach match by match and not the tournament. Semifinals is another match for us and would like to play to potential," caoch Harendra Singh said.

Harmanpreet Singh, who scored India's match-winner against Spain in the quarterfinals, celebrates with captain Harjeet Singh. India won 2-1.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Spain might have questioned decisions that ultimately saw it lose out in the quarterfinals here but for the Indian team management, the host was not just the better team but also a deserving winner on Thursday.

Spanish coach Roger Pallarols had suggested that the second goal, the winner, was “a present” to India and put it down to luck more than anything else. But his Indian counterpart differed. “If luck could win you matches, we would have won in 2005 as well. I don’t believe in luck, it is my players' hard work that is producing results,” Harendra Singh said.

Harendra was the coach back then as well, when India lost the bronze medal playoff to Spain, and he had accepted that the pain of that loss continued to linger. Even that defeat is considered due to biased umpiring more than anything else but Harendra refused to comment. “I don’t believe in history and I do not discus my feelings with the team. We approach match by match and not the tournament. Semifinals is another match for us and would like to play to potential,” he said.

Complimenting Spain for a tough challenge, Harendra nevertheless insisted there were no surprises. “Spain’s performance was on expected lines, they are very nippy and skillful. If you look at shots on goal, there weren’t many but after taking the lead, they defended in numbers. At the end of the day, though, results matter,” Harendra added.

A dejected and teary Spanish team had refused to leave the field for a long time after the match, unable to accept the result. “If the first question being asked is about the penalty corner that gave India the lead, it means everyone has doubts. But I am proud of my team,” Pallarols had claimed.

Manager Roelant Oltmans added that, if it came down to it, almost every decision could be questioned. “One of the Spanish players told me after the match that the umpire felt the goalkeeper had kicked the ball deliberately over the backline but they said it was not deliberate. Umpires take a decision and we have no opportunity here for referrals. If you look at the game, there is only one team which deserved to win,” he asserted.

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