KOCHI: Indian hockey team captain PR Sreejesh pitched for renewal of national coach Roelant Oltmans' contract and said replacing the Dutchman might prove difficult for the team.
“It’s not my call to decide on the coach. But I feel he should continue. It takes four to five years for a coach to fully blend with the team and understand every player personally. It would be difficult for the players if a new coach is brought in as he will have a different style and system,” the ace goal keeper told Express. He also spoke about Team India's Rio performance. Excerpts.
On Oltmans’ style
He is very unique. He mixes Indian and European styles judiciously and our players find it easy to adapt to. They find it compatible and are comfortable with the process.
On India’s performance in Rio
If you ask whether I am happy with our team’s performance in Rio, I am not. There is no doubt the team’s performance graph has been going up and the unit is slowly evolving, but as a player and captain I would have liked us win more matches and move beyond quarterfinals.
On missing the services of defender Birendra Lakra due to injury
Lakra’s absence was a big negative factor for the team. It’s difficult to find a replacement for a player of his caliber. During several occasions I wished I had his service. But injury is part and parcel of the game and there is no point whining over it.
On the forwards' Rio show
“I don’t say they are solely responsible for the debacle. But I am a bit disappointed with the forward line. Of the five strikers we had, four of them have just graduated from the junior level. We expected them to score more but they couldn’t. In the match against Canada we only scored twice. Remember, Canada had conceded more goals against other teams and we ought to have scored more. But we failed and that was the turning point in the Olympics. If we had registered a win against Canada we could’ve got Spain instead of Belgium in quarterfinals.
On penalty corners
Having two penalty-corner experts, VR Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh, in the side, conversion rate could’ve been higher.
In the match against Netherlands, we were behind 1-2 and then got a penalty corner in the last minute. But we squandered the chance.