was never supposed to be an easy game but there is still a lot of disappointment at our first loss in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. We went in knowing Korea are among the fittest and strongest teams in the world. And we played accordingly, which was reflected in the score-line when we led 2-0 inside the first 25 minutes. And we played accordingly, which was reflected in the score-line when we led 2-0 inside the first 25 minutes.
We went into the match knowing well that giving them extra space would be suicidal. Our game plan in the first 35 minutes was to close that space and nullify their sprints. We executed it well, and we could see they were getting frustrated.
That was the time we should have pressed ahead and gone for the kill but unfortunately that did not happen. Having played with You Hyo Sik in the Premier Hockey League, I knew he would be a crucial player and must be curbed. Instead, we let in a goal in the last few minutes of the first half, which I think was a mistake.
But there is only so much a team can do when you are struggling with injuries. Worst is when your players pick up those injuries during the course of play. We had Dhananjay Mahadik going down after being hit on the ankle, Diwakar Ram had a cut above his eye and Chandi was also injured. Hopefully, they will all be fine in time.
At the same time, it is disappointing to see umpiring not up to the standard. It wasn't just us; even the Koreans would feel done in by what they claimed was a disallowed goal. I am not saying we would have definitely won if it wasn't for the umpiring, but I think we would have at least got a point from this game. Especially the penalty-stroke that gave them the winner, since I was present barely a few feet from the spot and could see there had been no infringement.
My point is not to blame the umpires; they are also human and can make mistakes. My point is that if there is technology for use, it should be utilised.
The FIH has already tested and approved television referrals and used it during the World Cup last year. However, since then it has been a pick-and-choose system, with the organisers having the right to do as they please.
No team can escape bad umpiring and if using technology can reduce mistakes, it should be welcomed by all and made mandatory by the FIH in all competitions. However, my immediate concern is to make sure that by the time the players get ready for the second game against Britain on Friday, they have already forgotten Thursday's loss but not its lessons.
This is a young side and they are talented but they have not played under pressure situations too often. As captain and the senior-most player, it is my responsibility to make sure they are completely fresh, especially mentally, on Friday morning.
About our next opponents, they have proved, time and again, that they are a dangerous side.
They have climbed to world No. 4 in a very short time and that shows their talent and intent.
Against them, we will have to be at our best and go for full points. A draw won't suffice. Hopefully, we will be able to get our best players back in action in time for that.