Not happy but satisfied with performance - Oltmans

A top-four finish at a major International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament for a team ranked sixth in the world was not a bad result, according to India coach Roelant Oltmans, after the team lost their third semi-final in a row in the last one year at this level — this time to Belgium 1-0.

'We did not play well in the first half but we were unlucky to not get a goal in the last 30 minutes': India coach Roelant Oltmans after India lost to Belgium.   -  Getty Images

A top-four finish at a major International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament for a team ranked sixth in the world was not a bad result, according to India coach Roelant Oltmans, after the team lost their third semi-final in a row in the last one year at this level — this time to Belgium 1-0.

However, it does indicate a tendency to choke in big moments, something the Indians need to work on. “I am not happy but I am satisfied with the team in this competition. It was a game of two halves today. We did not play well in the first half but we were unlucky to not get a goal in the last 30 minutes. There were a lot of chances created but we could not convert them,” he said after the match, defending his players.

Two day ago, the coach had insisted it was time for India to step up the ladder and get into the final of major events. On Tuesday, he was more realistic of his team's targets. “We have eight months to go and I know the areas we need to work on. I think we are capable of rectifying our mistakes before Rio, which is our main target in the next one year,” he added.

For long, the Indians used to crack under pressure towards a game's end. That match situation has been controlled but the continued slip-up in crucial matches is something the team needs to sort out — and the issues are clearly more in the mind than on the turf. India had previously lost 4-0 to Belgium in the previous stage of the competition in Antwerp.

Penalty corner not deserved

A penalty corner, sought by the Indians but not given after referral, was deserved, according to the Dutchman. His opposite number, Shane McLeod, however, differed. “When I saw the replays, I felt it was not dangerous, there was no player in the vicinity who could have been hit,” he said.

Having won a high-intensity match against the host in front of a packed, hostile crowd the New Zealander, who took charge only last month, was visibly proud of helping his wards reach their first-ever major world level final. “We know Australia (the other finalist) is a completely different monster from India, it is the World No. 1 side for a reason and a tough opposition. For me, it would be yet another chance for this team to assess itself on the road to Rio and step closer to the top guys,” he said.

For now, though, the team that got together less than two weeks before the event due security restrictions after the Paris bombings is busy relishing its journey here.