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Bhaskaran praises midfield, defence

June 21, 2006 19:47 IST

Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran saluted his half-line for the 3-0 victory over Korea that put India in the semi-finals of the 15th Sultan Azlan Shah eight-nation hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

"Our aim today was to win and I am extremely happy that we achieved it quite comfortably," Bhaskaran said after the match.

"We knew we could break the Koreans if we could block their right wing attacks and also not commit any mistakes inside the circle.

"They have a good drag-flicker, and today I was happy that our defence did not concede even a single penalty-corner.

"Yes, it was a near-flawless exhibition by our deep defence," he said.

Bhaskaran, who was the coach of the Indian team that won the tournament in 1995, also showered praise on his midfielders.

"The midfielders played extremely well and we played to our plan of controlling the midfield," he said.

Regarding the forwards, he felt there is much more work to be done.

"We have to keep it simple and I have been telling this to my forwards.

"They have to time the release of the ball more accurately so that they can surprise the rival defenders.

"I was happy that Tushar, who scored our third goal, kept it simple when he was in position," he said.

The coach admitted that he was concerned by the manner in which the Koreans attacked during the seven-minute period to half-time after the game resumed following the stoppage due to heavy rain.

"I knew it was a crucial period of the match and that we had to make sure that we don't concede any goals to the Koreans.

"I thought the boys handled the pressure well today, and now it is time for the players to savour the moment," Bhaskaran said.

The coach said he informed Tournament Director Alain Renaud of France that India would like to complete the match today itself rather than continue tomorrow morning.

"Our players were in good rhythm and tomorrow is another day. So I told the TD that I would like to complete the game tonight. I must say that the TD was very obliging," he added.

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