On a cold Monday evening, the India men's hockey team started the five-match series against South Africa on a scorching note, scoring an emphatic 4-0 win at the National Stadium.
But the result was irrelevant to national chief coach Michael Nobbs. The players, according to him, made mistakes, and some of them were silly.
Shivendra Singh opened the scoring in the 21st minute, followed by Birendra Lakra in the 26th minute. Defender Sardar Singh slotted home the third goal in the 28th minute. The last goal came in the 53rd minute through SK Uthappa.
Nobbs made a note of the "lack of sustained effort" in the second session. "Penetration was poor inside the circle, we need to improve that," said the Australian on the missed chances in the last 30 minutes.
The visitors were left ruing the missed chances. "We gave some soft balls to India," said coach Gregg Clark. "Had we not missed them (chances), the result would have been close," he added.
After losing the opening contest 0-3 on Sunday, Azerbaijan gave a better display on Monday. After trailing by a goal, the visitors not only came back strongly, but also exposed chinks in the Indian defence. The shortcomings would worry the team management, which has the tough task of guiding the team through the qualifying rounds before hoping for a ticket to the London Olympics.
It was apparent that the India girls need to work on penalty corner conversion and fitness. They missed four penalty corners and had Saba Anjum not converted the fifth in the 41st minute, which gave India a 2-1 winning lead, the score-line would have remained 1-1.
Coach, CR Kumar, admitted to the deficiencies, but said the focus was to peak in the Olympic qualifier next month.