Oltmans: 'We play not to lose, we should play to score and win'

The selection trials to pick the team for Asian Champions Trophy and Australia Tour will be held on Friday at the SAI, South Centre in Bengaluru. The team will also be put through a rigorous fitness test.

Oltmans will join the junior team for the Australian Hockey League (AHL) starting September 29 and in his absence, the camp will be spearheaded by fellow Dutchman Roger van Gent.   -  Getty Images

Two months ago, the Indian men's hockey team had left the Sports Authority of India here in high spirits. The Rio Olympics may have ended in disappointment, but as the players return to their rooms here this week, the mood in the camp is still fine, insists Roelant Oltmans.

“The mood is very good because the players have seen that they really can compete with the top sides in the world,” the chief coach said here on Thursday. “They've got lots of compliments from hockey lovers all over the world about the way they have performed. We are not happy with the final result. But one thing I've learnt in life is that you can't change the past. You can only learn from it.”

The focus has now shifted to next month's Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia, with the 26 'probables' to be put through selection trials here on Friday. Notwithstanding the quarterfinal exit, there were a number of positives from Rio, Oltmans felt.

“The way we competed against Holland, Germany and Argentina is very encouraging,” he said. “The team is almost the same level as them. However, we need to be consistent. You can’t afford to slip from your peak level even for half a game in a tournament. The game against Canada is an example. For me, it was the most disappointing game. We could have been 3-0 or 4-0 up in the first half but in the end we came away with a draw.”

For all its effort and improvement on the pitch, India has struggled to produce results against the big sides. “Sometimes, I feel we are playing not to lose or not to concede a second goal instead of trying to score the second and third one ourselves,” Oltmans said. “You miss the opportunity and then it costs you. The tension is there and someone makes a mistake.”

It boiled down to experience, the Dutchman felt. “Look at Argentina and Belgium, who played the final in Rio. These teams have been training hard with a specific programme for the last 10 years and it has finally paid off. We started maybe three years ago. It takes six or seven years to reach the top level. The final position (eighth) doesn't say anything because it's a stupid rule (ranking eliminated teams on points),” he said.

Oltmans would not be drawn on his own future, though. “Everyone knows my contract is expiring in the first week of January (2017),” he said. “At this moment, we have started to discuss possibilities for the future but nothing is signed.”