Jakarta: A shell-shocked chief coach of Indian hockey Harendra Singh was left speechless after India’s dramatic collapse against Malaysia.
Harendra, who before the start of the tournament had exuded confidence of creating a legacy by winning back-to-back gold medal, was at a loss of words to explain the defeat of his team, which till last evening being referred to as unbeatable.
Regaining his composure, Horendra lambasted his team for making silly mistakes saying the 6-7 loss has made Olympic qualification a lot tougher.
He hailed the winners calling them the deserving team.
“Malaysia are the deserving winners. We committed too many unforced errors and paid the price. We did not keep things simple. We tried to show our Indian skills and by doing that we lost the momentum.
”It is a big setback for Indian hockey. The road to Olympics is a lot bumpier now. We missed the easiest chance to qualify,” said Harendra. It was only Malaysia, who had stunned India in the semifinals of the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Asked why Malaysia continues to trouble India, the coach said: “They were only looking to score on the counter and both their goals came from the counter.
“We had a plan to shift and pass, but we tried to hold the ball and made parallel passes. That cost us the game. Also, we committed too many unforced errors. It is unpardonable.”
Harendra, however, said India were not at all fault in the shoot-out.
“Shoot out is anybody’s game. If we would have won, we should not have celebrated. In shoot-out, turning around is a problem. If your centre of gravity is low then it is easier (to turn around), if it is high then it becomes a problem,” he said.
India had pumped in a record 76 goals in the group stage. Did it make them complacent?
“I don’t think so. We took them as serious practice matches. We never take any team lightly. But this loss is a setback for Indian hockey. Coaches will come and go.”
India still have to fight it out for the bronze play-off. “The boys will have to pick themselves up. There is still a medal at stake,”
“We muffed penalty corners, gave space to the rivals and did not maintain the pressure when it was needed most,” the coach opined.
“This defeat will rankle. There is no doubt about that and I have no hesitation in admitting that,” the coach opined.
Malaysian skipper Mohamed Shukri Mutalib said that the win was due to their self-belief and their technical preparations.
“There is no doubt that India was the best team in the competition, but we had the measure of their tactics. We felt confident that if we execute our moves well then we have a chance. For me it was always a 50-50 chance,” he said.