Roelant Oltmans: Not happy with goal-scoring opportunities India created

The India coach expressed his disappointment after India drew with Great Britain in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup opener.

Roelant Oltmans... “I think we can play much better than we did.”   -  Akhilesh Kumar

India’s failure to create optimum goal-scoring opportunities in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup opener against Great Britain has disappointed the coach Roelant Oltmans. The teams drew 2-2.

“Overall, I can live with the result, but I am not happy about the number of goal-scoring opportunities we created in the game,” Oltmans said after match.

The start of the match was delayed due to lightening and heavy showers. The teams were warming up when forced to run off the pitch due to lightening, which Oltmans said was unfair to the three young players whom India fielded for their debut with the senior team. It was the season’s first tournament for India, six months after the Asian Champions Trophy it won in Malaysia’s Kuantan city.

Oltmans said the defenders did a good job, but two unnecessary mistakes saw them concede goals that allowed Great Britain to stage comeback twice in the match. Akashdeep Singh (19th minute) and Mandeep Singh (48th minute) scored field goals to give India the lead twice, but only to see the Britons hit back through Tom Carson (25th) and Alan Forsyth (52nd).

‘Unnecessary mistakes’

“We made a couple of unnecessary mistakes that they took benefit of,” said Oltmans. “Otherwise, we defended fairly well in the whole match and conceded only one penalty corner. I think we can play much better than we did. But this is the first match with this combination and also the first since November,” he said. “It’s not strange that all the rhythms and automatic movements are not part of your game.”

Oltmans said playing this game was special for the three juniors - Gurinder Singh, Manpreet Singh Jr and Sumit, who made their senior international debut on Saturday. “The first match is something special, but there was a little bit of tension that built up because we had to wait for hours for the start,” Oltmans said.

“All these boys can play hockey, there is no doubt about that. [On Saturday], it was not the best hockey they have showed in their lives before, but I am 100 per cent sure they will improve their game. You know that if you bring in some players for the first time, they will make some mistakes. That’s what they have to go through and hopefully won’t make those errors again,” he said.

British coach Bobby Crutchley said his team showed good quality and did not give India many goal-scoring chances. “Not allowing India many chances was one of our aims. If we had nicked the game with the corner at the end, it would have been perfect,” said Crutchley. The British coach was all praise for his team’s fightback that saw it neutralise the Indian lead twice.

“When you are behind, players push on to try and score the equaliser. That’s a good sign,” he said.