Hockey World Cup: The real World Cup begins now, says Harendra Singh

Having accomplished its “Step One” — topping the group — the Indian team is looking forward to the knockouts.

Harendra Singh... “I’m happy but can’t be very happy [with India’s performances so far].”   -  Getty Images

Even before the World Cup started, coach Harendra Singh has been insisting on how the most important game of the tournament would be the quarterfinals. As such, the first target for the team was to get into the last eight and the victory against Canada on Saturday ensured that for India.

After the game, Harendra continued to hold his views. “For us, it was a four-nation tournament till the league match that we won but that is over now. The real World Cup starts from here. Topping the Pool was Step One and that is past. I have already written [whom] we will play in the quarterfinals and the semifinals and all the boys know it,” he said when asked about the road ahead.

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Regardless of the results so far, however, Harendra is seeking better efforts from his wards. The team has been patchy and losing its momentum at times, allowing opponents to come back into the game. The start has also been dodgy, which was managed against Belgium but there would be no comebacks from a repeat in the knockout rounds.

‘Too much hurry’

“I am happy but can’t be very happy. We are missing the final pass and running for the goal. We are in too much hurry; we have to wait for our moment. I keep telling them they are not boys any more, they are men and the child’s instinct to run for the ball all the time has to be thrown out,” he admitted.

The Indian team is missing the final pass and running for the goal, notes Harendra Singh. Photo: Getty Images

 

But he isn’t too concerned. “This team can score at any moment but we don’t look into another team’s bedroom. Our target was 6-0, we won 5-1 and we have to do our homework. I want the players to tackle irrespective of their position. A clean sheet puts pressure on every opposition because they wonder what needs to be done to score,” he added.

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Man of the match Lalit Upadhyay pulled back into a feeder role to make up for the absence of an unwell Manpreet Singh and still ended up with two goals. He credited the coach for the change of role. “He got us the gold at Junior World Cup, he knows every player and his strengths and how to use them. It is his faith in a player that has us switching roles and doing well,” Upadhyay said.

The team though is now looking forward to the quarterfinals, and to breaking a 38-year old jinx. “Quarterfinal is the trickiest match. Once we get past that, there will be no looking back for this team,” Harendra declared.