Oltmans: It is a wake-up call

"Of course I'm not satisfied with the final result (in London)," Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans said at the SAI here on Friday.

"Our finishing was not up to the standard we wanted," said coach Roelant Oltmans.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Still smarting from one of its worst displays in recent times, the Indian men's senior team has resumed training in the familiar environs of the National camp here.

India finished sixth at the HWL semi-final in London last month, after defeats to lower-ranked Malaysia and Canada, and returns home in the knowledge that there is much room for improvement.

"Of course I'm not satisfied with the final result (in London)," Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans said at the SAI here on Friday. "Our finishing was not up to the standard we wanted. Also, while defending against counter-attacks, we made a couple of mistakes in important games. It is disappointing but if it (a slip-up) was to happen, this was the best moment for it to happen, because we have enough time to rectify it. We will learn from this result. It is a wake-up call.”

Asked again if India's guaranteed qualification for the HWL Final and the 2018 World Cup, by virtue of being the host, was a factor in the performance, Oltmans said: “I hope not and I try to prepare them like it's not but maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, it's there. You see that the teams that really had to fight for it, that last fighting spirit, they were maybe a little bit better than we were.”

With injury to Rupinderpal Singh just before the tournament began, Harmanpreet Singh had to shoulder the responsibility of converting penalty corners alone. Although he scored six goals, the youngster could have done better, Oltmans felt. "That part was a little disappointing. It was the first tournament where Harmanpreet had to do it all by himself and the pressure for a 21-year-old is quite high. He needs to gain experience," he said.

Oltmans admitted that the Sardar Singh issue had affected the side. The star midfielder had to travel to Leeds and back on the eve of the game against Holland for questioning by police. "We don't want such a thing to affect the team but of course it has an effect," the Dutchman said. "Mentally we try to take it away, but what do you think will happen when a player has to travel for 11 hours by car, to answer questions at a police station? We knew it would affect our match with Holland. After that we hoped the situation would close. But unfortunately she (the complainant) showed up everywhere every time, again," he said, while vehemently denying that he was making an excuse for his side's poor performance.

Oltmans hailed Sardar's commitment as a player. "It is great. Think about it; put yourself in his position. That's why, against Holland, I took him out of the game quite early. I felt it was not fair. Otherwise everyone was going to blame Sardar. But you should not blame him for that. If you see the commitment, the way he's training... from my point of view he's better than he was, the year before. He's still very eager."

India will leave for Europe on August 6 for a friendly tour of Belgium and the Netherlands.

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