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Carvalho pleased with Boom bronze
July 02, 2007 18:15 IST
Indian hockey coach Joaquim Carvalho rates the team's performance in the Champions Challenge tournament fourth on a scale of 1-10 and says the bunch is "hungrier for more success" after the bronze medal finish in Boom, Belgium, on Sunday.
"Of course, we came here to win the tournament, but I will take the bronze medal," said the coach, summing up India's showing in the six-nation tournament.
Argentina won the tournament and qualified for the 2008 Champions Trophy.
"Frankly, I did not expect our team to perform so well in this competition. I think both the team and I are getting hungrier for more success.
"If we work hard and improve, then I don't see any reason why we shouldn't perform better," he said.
Carvalho felt that India's performance in Boom was far better than the one in Ipoh, Malaysia, where too they finished third, in the eight-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in May.
"The opposition and conditions were different then. Here in Boom, it was far tougher and I am happy that our players passed another test like playing in such trying conditions," he said.
Looking back at the competition, much of it was played in wet and cold weather, except the final day, when the region enjoyed Indian summer conditions.
Carvalho said the tournament provided useful exposure to the team that comprised mostly young and inexperienced players.
"One of the positives was that we kept improving with each game, though I will agree that we still have plenty of work to do if we hope to reach the top," Carvalho said.
"The weather conditions at the start of the tournament were tough, but I am happy that despite losing to New Zealand [Images] in the first game, we came back to win four of the remaining five matches," he pointed out.
India's chances were severely affected by the 2-1 loss to Argentina.
"I think, that spoilt our chances of making it to the final and, frankly, we have to blame ourselves for that defeat as we wasted 12 penalty-corners," Carvalho opined.
According to the coach, the key areas that need drastic improvement include penalty-corner conversions, faster midfield play and quicker release of the ball. That apart, he felt the forwards need to be sharper at the finish besides combining better with the midfielders.
In all, India received 25 penalty-corners of which only six were converted. Incidentally, in the play-off game with England [Images], India went without a single penalty-corner.
"Our ball rotation is still way below my expectations. The Dutch do it well in utilising the full width of the field and also rotating the ball much faster. This is a key element in modern hockey and we have to work hard on this," he said.
He agreed that India's frequent and repeated failure to hold on to the ball in the final 10 to 15 minutes of a match is cause for concern.
"We tend to relax when ahead. Instead, we have to continue to apply pressure and score more goals.
"These days, you cannot take anything for granted until the end of the match, for every team is capable of coming back despite being down by three or four goals.
"And so, it is important that we keep possession of the ball for as long as possible, especially in the last quarter," Carvalho said.
Looking ahead, Carvalho stressed on the need to play more matches and have more exposure trips.
"Just having camps is of no use. We have to provide exposure to our players and we can only judge them over a period of time.
"I prefer playing against European teams and also Australia more often as the competition will be far tougher than any Asian side can offer.
"Such matches will help our players mature while providing them useful experience," he observed.
India's big target in the immediate future is to qualify for the 2008 Olympics [Images].
"We have to keep our focus on the qualifying tournament which is our top priority," he said.