Sreejesh and Oltmans look ahead with confidence

The Indian team is guaranteed of a quarterfinal berth, and the players have promised to improve their performances in the remaining two group matches — against World No. 2, the Netherlands, on Thursday and Canada on Friday.

Sreejesh is happy with the improvement shown by the team and hopes to keep the momentum going in the coming matches.   -  Getty Images

The Indian hockey team is guaranteed of a quarterfinal berth, and the players have promised to improve their performances in the remaining two group matches — against World No.2, the Netherlands, on Thursday and Canada on Friday.

A top-two finish will see India take on a lower-placed team in the first knock-out round, improving its chances of going forward.

‘’We need to play harder and better because it will determine who we play against in the quarterfinals," skipper P. R. Sreejesh said.

The captain was understandably happy with the improvement shown by his team while beating Argentina. The South American nation had held India to a 3-3 draw in a six-nation tournament in Spain recently.

"This win has brought some relief, but the aim is to go much higher," he said. "We have improved gradually. We have improved considerably from the first match. We scored and played well in the third match. If we keep this momentum, then definitely I feel we can do wonders."

The loss against Germany — where the team conceded the winner in the last minute — did hurt India, but the players decided to focus on the matches ahead rather than brood.

"It was not about the loss but the goal we conceded in the last three seconds that hurt us badly. The game was under our control and we let it slip away," Sreejesh said. "It is important that we keep up the rhythm, and a win against the Netherlands will give us more confidence. They have an experienced lineup and we need to be well prepared, both mentally and physically."

Coach Roelant Oltmans, who has worked hard to bring about a certain consistency and confidence in the Indian team, said that he was happy with the win. He, however, made it clear that the team needs to improve further.

"Our target is to get more than we have right now. We were much more clever (against Argentina) than we were yesterday (against Germany)," Oltmans said.

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