Video: Fulton credits ‘fitness at crucial moments’ after India’s comeback Asian Champions Trophy win

Although things eventually worked out in India’s favour in the final on Saturday, head coach Fulton has his eyes firmly set on the target - Asian Games.

Published : Aug 13, 2023 08:54 IST , CHENNAI - 3 MINS READ

India men’s team coach Craig Fulton lauded his side’s character after it turned a two-goal deficit against Malaysia to clinch the Asian Champions Trophy on Saturday.

“I think you will find these are guys who are trusting each other. And also, trusting that they can do the job. We did not play as well as we wanted to (in the first half). But that’s fine. I thought the guys were class. The younger guys stood up, and so did the older ones. So, it was a really good collective mix of those who were playing and those who came on to keep the pressure. The character of the group was great,” said Fulton after the match.

India broke the deadlock in the ninth minute courtesy of Jugraj Singh sounding the board from a penalty corner. But Malaysia hit right back towards the close of the first quarter and consolidated in the second to end the half 3-1 ahead.

But despite his unit missing the mark in the first half, Fulton had confidence that it would recover after the break.

“I suppose Malaysia raised their game. They got control of the first half. We did not do badly; we were just not 100% in what we were trying to do. We regrouped, the third and fourth quarter showed. We knew if we could get one, we could get two. If we get to two then we could win the game,” said Fulton.

Scrappy as it might have been, Fulton felt such a performance was necessary for his boys before the Asian Games in September. With it, India completed an array of victories in the 10-day tournament, requiring different temperament and approach.

“This is an important step because you need to know you can come from behind. It is easy to play when you are two or three nil up. It is not easy to chase. But also, if you’re two or three up and then the opposition scores, how do you, then, still win? That is also a big challenge. I think we’ve covered a lot of those now pre-Asian Games but we still have some work to do,” said the South African.

What worked for his side on the day was fitness, felt Fulton.

“Any team that plays us knows we’re fit and they have to match us in all four quarters. But the biggest (advantage) is that, mentally, you start to believe that you have another gear. There is no guarantee that you will win just because you are fit. But you definitely would not be winning a lot if you are not.

“Fitness at the crucial moments like towards the end of the tournaments. You have to have enough in you if you are chasing a game. Like we had to do today, press for the whole second half. You still need to have that in you. Fitness is one of the main priorities of the modern game we play.”

Although things worked out in India’s favour, the head coach has his eyes firmly set on the target - Asian Games.

“It is important to have a game like this. It counts. At the same time, it is not the Asian Games. So our feet are firmly on the ground. We had this moment. We did not play well in the first half but turned it around. That’s character. But we still have got another step to go,” said Fulton.

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