BENGALURU:There appears to be a shift in the pecking order in international hockey. The Rio Olympics saw Argentina beating Belgium for gold. India came up with a fair performance. However, there cannot be much doubt that modern powerhouses Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Australia will be looking to bounce back.
Whether the winds of change are blowing is too early to tell. “We’ll know if that’s true or not in the years ahead,” said Indian men’s coach Roelant Oltmans on Thursday.
“Was their performance just momentum or is this structural? It will be good if more teams can compete at that level. It will make major tournaments unpredictable. England finished ninth. During the HWL Finals in India, they looked by far the best team. That’s how competitive it is,” the Dutchman added.
India’s performance was far better than in several previous editions. This is hopefully the start of better days for the national team. To do that, Rio was perhaps a good starting point to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We always analyse things after a tournament. We have identified areas we need to work on, a few ways on how to play in the midfield and structuring the forward line. Besides that, we will work on skill execution and penalty corners. We started three years ago, but it takes six-seven years to reach the top,” Oltmans said. There are positives from Rio. “The most important thing is we are really close to the top sides in the world,” Oltmans felt. “If you see the way we competed against Holland, Germany and Argentina, it’s very encouraging. We need to be consistent. In the end, it’s all about results. We can’t afford to be lax for a few seconds in a match.
“One thing I’ve learnt in life is not to worry about the past. You can’t change it but you have to learn from it and use the experience in the future,” stated the veteran coach.
“They have to execute plans when they are leading. I feel we are playing not to lose or not to concede another goal instead of trying to score the second and third one. We had the opportunity but did not do it and then it cost you. There is tension and someone makes a mistake,” he explained.
The Indian team will head to Kuantan (Malaysia) for the Asian Champions Trophy in October, after camping at the Sports Authority of India Southern Centre here for about a month.