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September 23, 2000
There's work to do in the defence: BhaskaranJaideep Singh
"Indian hockey is on the way to where it belongs in world hockey," says Indian team coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran and attributes the reason to the campaign's good start.
"The team is reaping the rewards of a good start, which several teams in the past missed," he said. "In some of the previous Olympics and World Cups we've been getting bad starts and then trying to recover lost ground. That's not always possible.
"Out here we've been able to absorb the shock against South Korea, because of the good start."
Bhaskaran is obviously pleased with the situation but feels a lot of work needs to be done to bolster the team's defence which came under tremendous pressure from Spanish strikers during the 3-2 win which revived the chances of India's first entry into the semi-finals in two decades.
"There's plenty of work to do in the defence," Bhaskaran said. "We gave away too many chances to Spain.
"The boys can play better than today. We had done a lot of homework and every player did his part exceptionally well."
Spain's collection from the wings seemed to have left Indian defenders bewildered and Bhaskaran admits that some work needs to be done there.
"Spain extended their ball collection from the wings and we need to look at this very carefully," he said.
"Both teams played very cautiously and Spain was able to penetrate our defence by using the flanks to pick up long balls."
But Bhaskaran said the Indian defence was not panicking.
"We surely are not panicking in defence. We had two tries at the rival goal in the last six minutes and that's surely not what a panic-struck side would be doing," he said.
The coach, who also happens to be the last Indian captain to win the Olympic hockey gold medal at Moscow, said the forwards these days need to fall back to bolster the defence.
"I had to play (Dhanraj) Pillay withdrawn today. The forwards have to come back and help the defenders these days. They need to work the ball up ... you can no longer expect to stand in front and expect the ball to be relayed to you."
Bhaskaran is obviously pleased with India's ability to convert the penalty corners into goals. India today converted both their penalty corners after opening the account with a penalty stroke.
"You've got to take penalty corners to a plan...you don't get goals easily as every team these days has studied the rival defences very well," said Bhaskaran.
"The best thing to happen to us is that we've taken the lead in every game," he said, obviously not referring to the match against South Korea where ndia failed to score and lost by two goals.
"I hope this trend of breaking away into the lead will continue."
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