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Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: It was a miracle that almost everyone had one or two errors, says coach Schopman after India lose opener

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Ranchi, Jan 12 (IANS) Before the start of the women’s FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers India’s head coach Janneke Schopman had listed quick and smart thinking, making the right decisions and strong mental and physical framework as areas that they had worked on for the tournament.

But when it came to executing their learnings, Schopman’s players faltered big time on Saturday as they made several mistakes, sent faulty passes, lacked patience and lacked composure on the field as they went down 0-1 against a fighting United States team on the opening night of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers here on Saturday.

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The defeat in their first match has left the Indians virtually on the ropes as they now have to defeat New Zealand in their second match on Sunday and hope for results of other matches in Pool B to work in their favour.

The result of the final match of the day in a packed stadium rooting for the hosts has opened up Pool B and the Indians will have to recover in time for another tough encounter with the Black Sticks.

Asked what went wrong for her players, chief coach Schopman said, “I think we created theoretically enough (chances). But I haven’t seen the composure on the board or confidence on the ball that I’m used to seeing our team doing in training or the matches previously. I think we were a little bit rushed, we were forcing too much. I think maybe that had to do with the fact that we’re one-nil down in the match early.”

She said some of her players didn’t have a great match and made a lot of mistakes. The coach was perturbed that her players lost every 50-50 ball in the match.

“Well, look I’m sure they know how they have to play. We play always the same way and we have to play to our principles. But if you lose every 50-50 ball more or less then you know it’s going to be a tough game. And we had some players that didn’t have a great game and to their credit, they kept fighting and they kept going for it, but they weren’t great.”

“I think it was it was a miracle that almost everyone had one or two errors.”

She praised her players for fighting till the end. “And yeah, sometimes you have those games that you’re not good and then you have to keep fighting. And at least I think we did that. So I’m proud of that, that we did all those things.”

Schopman said her players did not play to their strength, lost their composure and started playing long balls into the circle which is not their usual game.

“I do think we have to be a little bit smarter and understanding. What does the game need? Where’s the space? What is our strength like?

“Our strength is not to hit long balls into the circle. And I thought we did that too often and I kept trying to tell them, ‘Just play short, we’re good. We have the skill, we can eliminate the mistakes, we can get into the circle’. So I think we just have to play more to our strengths. We have to be better ourselves. It doesn’t really have to matter like today.

“I’m not saying we lost to ourselves because we didn’t. I think the USA put up a good fight. But I do think that we didn’t play to our strengths and we went away from what typically works for us. And I think we need to revisit that and say, look, let’s go back to what works for us. We know what we can do, whether that’s a normal position or holding possession,” said the 46-year-old Dutch coach who was the assistant coach when India reached the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympic Games,” said the Dutch coach, a former Olympic champion with her native country.

Asked whether her players succumbed to the pressure of playing an important tournament like an Olympic Qualifier at home, Schopman said she would have to ask her players about that but added that the crowd was very supportive during the Asian Champions Trophy that India won her before the Asian Games.

Claiming that the Americans were the underdogs and had nothing to lose, Schopman said they did not play hockey at all and kept defending and her team was playing against the wall.

“I know it’s it’s a tough game being you know playing against the wall because they didn’t really try to play hockey anymore. I mean they were just defending, you know, encountering and fair to them they can do that. But you know that when you’re a better team that is what teams will do against you. I think that we need to be a little bit smarter, a little bit more composed on the ball, a little bit more, yeah. Learning to just be confident even though there’s pressure on the ball,” said the coach.

She hoped that her players would come back to the stadium on Sunday and play their natural game against New Zealand.

“I think the only thing I can ask them is to keep fighting. And I think that’s what we did and we we really tried and we just made unfortunate decisions and it was not you cannot pinpoint it to one person or two persons,” she added.

–IANS

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(This report is auto-generated from IANS news service. 'Main Media' holds no responsibility for its content.)

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