The Indian hockey team finally broke their 33-year-old medal jinx in a major international tournament as they beat Netherlands in the shoot-out to win the bronze in the Hockey World League Final in Raipur on Sunday.
A spirited Indian side came back from two goals down to beat defending champions and world number two Netherlands 3-2 in the shoot-out after both the teams were tied 5-5 at regulation time in the bronze medal play-off match.
Skipper Sardar Singh was ecstatic with the team’s performance and said the bronze medal means a lot for the team considering the fact that it came after a long hiatus of 33 years.
“After 33 years it means a huge deal for all of us. We have been working on tiny details on the field and it showed today. But we will pick on the positive from this tournament. We will celebrate the medal and focus on the Olympics,” Sardar said.
Chief coach Roelant Oltmans added that the achievement will be a “huge confidence booster” for his team ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics.
“This win showed what we can do well if we play the way we want to play. This should be a huge confidence booster for the team because we have not really done well in the medal round matches. It’s always special to win a medal round match,” an elated Oltmans said at the post-match press conference.
Oltmans lauded Indian skipper Sardar Singh and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who made numerous saves especially in the shoot-out to help the home team’s cause.
“These two (Sreejesh and Sardar) contributed a lot. But a lot of other individual players played really well. Most important thing was that we made progress in every match. If you look at every match we did something that was positive, that we can build on,” the coach said.
“But of course there are a few issues like closing out the match,” he added.