Coach Roelant Oltmans has sought an improved show from the Indian team in the ongoing 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament after the 1-5 mauling by world champions Australia in a preliminary league fixture. Wanting his wards to learn from the outing against the world’s top side, Oltmans said the young members of the squad ought to have learnt several lessons on finishing touches while scoring.
Not too pleased with the confusion in his team’s defense, Oltmans is eager to plug the visible gaps deep in the Indian territory, but also wants the strikers to learn from the manner Australia capitalised on four of its five forays into the circle.
“There was a clear lesson in effectiveness and how chances should be finished. Our boys must learn and gain from that,” said Oltmans as the Indian team today restricted its rest day activity to physical exercises.
Missing numerous scoring chances continues to be the bane of Indian hockey and Oltmans rued that India failed to capitalise on several opportunities that it created against Australia. “Improving our scoring ability in open play is an important aspect,” said the coach. “We also need to show some progress in our defence.”
The Indian team will tomorrow resume training for Sunday’s game against Canada, who started the tournament with a 1-3 loss to Pakistan.
Canada rebounded strongly in the second outing yesterday to hold defending champions New Zealand to a 1-1 draw in hot and humid conditions. Canada is among the four nations playing in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to have qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Our task of providing high quality exposure to our young players includes testing them against top-notch sides. In that context, the match against Australia was very important for us,” said Oltmans.
“You only get to assess you game when you play against top teams,” said Oltmans, asserting that the outing against Australia yesterday would be a significant milestone in the career of the young players.
“They will learn to cope with the tremendous pressure exerted by Australia’s turnover raids,” he said.
Patience, says Oltmans, is vital for India to improve. “Let’s not get too hassled by the scoreline. Like any coach, I am obviously not happy at conceding five goals, but we are making progress,” said Oltmans.
The coach said India was taking small steps forward. He said the gains of this tournament would reflect through the progress of these young players. “India have got quite a few good results in Asia. Now, we need to show our progress in major tournaments,” he said.
India has three points from its initial two outings of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, and is placed fourth in the league standings.
Host Malaysia is on top of the standings with four points from two matches, followed by Australia and Pakistan on three points through victories in their lone outings so far. Title holder New Zealand has just two points after drawing both its matches, while Canada has one from two games and Japan has lost both its matches.