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Coach Harendra decries 'bad' showing

January 16, 2004 17:22 IST

India coach Harendra Singh strongly criticized his players following their "horrible" performance against Spain in the Azlan Shah Cup tournament on Friday.

India lost the match 1-4 and ended its league engagement with as many as five defeats from six matches.

Harendra said he had expected more commitment and effort from his players in the team,'s concluding match.

"It was a bad game by all, right from the forwards to the goalkeeper. We gave away far too much space in the middle and allowed Spain to launch attacks," he said.

The coach was particularly upset with Sandeep Michael, who missed two golden opportunities including one quite early in the match.

"There has been so much hype about Sandeep Michael back home, saying he is a good striker, but today he missed two sitters and, clearly, he has a lot of hard work ahead of him," Harendra said.

Regarding the decision to play an injured Baljit Singh Dhillon, who is nursing a fractured nose, Harendra said the player had visited the doctor on Friday morning and received clearance to play.

"Baljit was also eager to play and we thought he might be able to hold the ball in the midfield. We were desperate to win at least one match here, but it did not work out."

Looking at the positives from the tournament, Harendra said the five defeats and a draw was a learning experience for the younger players in the team.

"They are now aware of the standard of play at the senior level. On our return home, we will all work on the defects and try and rectify them for the Junior Asia Cup in Karachi in April," Harendra said.

The Junior Asia Cup serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2005 Junior World Cup and the coach predicted a "strong performance" by his team in Karachi.

He said as coach he shouldered the blame for India's poor performance in the Azlan Shah Cup as much as the players themselves.

Spanish team coach Maurits Hendrics of Holland said he was quite satisfied with his side's overall performance in the tournament.

"We came here with the hope of at least playing in the bronze medal match, but then we drew two close matches, against Germany and Malaysia. Both these teams scored last minute equalisers. So, it cost us four points," he pointed out.

"We wanted our team to get a good workout ahead of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Madrid (March 2-13), and in this context, I am happy that the team has been shaping up well, and I have a lot of hopes on my boys."

Regarding today's game, he said, "Obviously, India missed Dhanraj Pillay, and I had to frequently rotate my players to keep them fresh. We also need to work on our offensive and defensive penalty-corner situations, but I think we are getting there."

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