Slow start is a worrying factor for Indian women's hockey coach CR Kumar. With just three days to go for the Olympic qualifiers, he was surprised to see his trainees --- aiming to win a London Olympic Games berth --- wilting under pressure in the initial stages of a practice game against Canada on Tuesday.
Though the Indian team faltered in the opening 20 minutes, it picked up momentum to win 5-2. Despite the win, concerns remain.
In the first quarter, the home team was jittery, as if playing under pressure. So much so that the lack of coordination allowed the rivals, lower down in global rankings, take control of the contest.
The coach said that it happened because the players took the practice match a bit too seriously. "We need to discuss the issue with the players. Such a situation shouldn't occur in the actual competition," he said.
In recent past, during international matches, apart from disappointment in penalty-corner conversion, the national team has lacked sting in attack. But, in the match on Tuesday, what was heartening for the coach was the girls didn't let the opportunity that came their way slip. Of the four penalty corners, they converted three.
Kumar hoped his trainees would repeat their goal-scoring chances in the main competition that begins February 18.
"It's a positive sign," he said. In the six-nation round-robin league, it's the last chance for participating team, including the hosts, to win a ticket to the London Games.