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A major disappointment

The Indian hockey team let go of an opportunity of beating Holland who were not at their best, says former field hockey player V Bhaskaran.

brand stories Updated: Dec 17, 2018 12:31 IST
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The Men’s Hockey World Cup was held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.(Odisha government)

The disappointment is very deep. Playing at home, we all felt that we would see India in the Men’s Hockey World Cup semi-finals for the first time after 1975. And now we have to wait for another four years with the hope that India will play a semi-final match in the World Cup.

It’s not always about where you finish. But I did feel that India let go of an opportunity of beating Holland who were not at their best. It was a match where we just did not rise to our potential.

Honestly, we should have played against Australia in the semi-finals. But the results of the quarter-finals will haunt us for a long time. We had the players, the positional sense, and also the attacking ability. But that was never unleashed. I always heard from the management that India could defend with all four, but the Dutch didn’t want to attack. They were confident in the middle zone, and also knew that India weren’t attacking much. That is a mystery to me. With players of the caliber of Mandeep, Dilpreet, Lalit, Akashdeep, and Simranjeet, why were we not attacking with the midfield taking on a bigger role?

I saw aerial balls in the first and second quarters, but no ground passes, which we are good at. I am not trying to be critical here, but I just failed to understand the plan. Maybe, a plan was there, but it wasn’t executed well. I couldn’t see Manpreet or Simaranjeet; Akashdeep was neither a midfielder nor in the forward line.

There is always a plan for every player. Manpreet was up against Belgium in the 3rd and 4th quarters, but against Netherlands I didn’t see that game at all. For the Dutch, it was like a training match; there was no pressure from the Indian forward line. The Dutch had it easy, and even their goalkeeper wasn’t tested.

I know the chance is gone, and a lack of experience in this team is to be blamed. We went wrong on the execution, and we didn’t have an upfront forward line.

This article has been authored by V Bhaskaran, a former field hockey player. He captained the Indian team which won the gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

First Published: Dec 17, 2018 12:31 IST