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Bhaskaran satisfied with first outing

April 19, 2006 19:38 IST

Describing India's performance in the four-nation hockey tournament in Germany as "satisfactory", India's new coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran said the team is moving in the right direction, but there is much work left to regain lost glory.

"The outing was satisfactory. We worked out several things, which went well for us," Bhaskaran said on return from Monchenbladbach.

This was the first competition for the underachieving Indian team that finished a lowly sixth at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, which resulted in the sacking of coach Rajinder Singh Junior.

Bhaskaran said the team is moving in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.

"We tried out a few plans and are still working on them. We primarily focussed on discipline and execution. Once they are taken care of, we will work on specific drills and set-pieces."

He said the training camp at Gurgaon, before leaving for Germany, had left a positive impact on the team.

"The improvement was visible in a short period of time and it can turn into a wonderful hockey team," Bhaskaran said.

"The boys had to play three big games in a very short time, but despite the hectic schedule their morale is quite high," he said.

India lost the first two matches to hosts Germany (1-3) and Spain (3-5) before getting the better of Argentina 3-2 in the final game.

Bhaskaran commended the much-maligned forward line, which had been guilty of squandering chances in matches gone by.

"The attackers came up with good performances and we scored seven goals in the three matches. Sandeep Singh displayed a lot of confidence while taking penalty-corners," he said.

"Overall the defenders gave a good account of themselves. But there were some unforced errors which we will have to look into," he added.

He was particularly happy with the way the team bounced back after two defeats to beat Argentina.

"It was a good performance to beat Argentina, which is a strong side."

The two late goals conceded in that match came against the run of play, Bhaskaran said.

A harsh umpiring decision cost India the game against Spain, he claimed.

"We came back to level the score at 3-3 and were going for the win rather than sit back for the draw. But a yellow card shown to Arjun Hallapa, which I think was a harsh decision, swung the game against us," the Moscow Olympics gold medal-winning team captain said.

He was happy with the performance of Jugraj Singh, who made a comeback to the national team after a horrendous car accident in 2003.

"He played as a mid-link in all the three games and gave a very good account of himself."

Former skipper Dilip Tirkey, who came back into the side after a break, also performed satisfactorily, while Sunil Ekka, a last minute replacement for William Xalco, played well in patches.

Asked about the absence of centre-half Vikram Pillay, Bhaskaran said, "We cannot do anything about players who are not in the side."

There is another camp lined up for the squad and the coach said he is concerned more about future tournaments rather than mull about the disappointments of the past.

"I cannot do much about the past tournaments. I am only bothered about preparing for the future and, I think, I have moved 50 per cent in that direction," he added.

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