India finished sixth ahead of Olympic champions Germany in Hero Hockey World League Final and its chief coach Terry Walsh said his wards' performance in the eight-nation event gave the hosts the self belief to take on any side in the world.
India lost 1-2 to Belgium in a keenly-contested fifth-sixth place classification match on a chilly evening at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium to eventually finish ahead of Germany and Argentina.
"We have learnt a lot from this tournament. This tournament gave us the self belief to play any team in the world, which not necessarily means a win," Walsh said at the post-match press conference.
"We came a long way in a short time. So all the credit goes to the support staff and the group of players," he said.
"I am really pleased with the growth we made, the change we made. We are growing as a group. We should reasonably be in a good place by the Asian Games."
Placed 10th in the FIH rankings, the Indians had plenty of positives to take home from this tournament as the sixth place finish will definitely give a major boost to their world rankings which will be updated after this tournament.
The relatively young India team, fielded for this tournament, held Germany to a 3-3 draw in the pool stages before beating the reigning Olympic champions 5-4 in the 5-8th place play-off game.
India also started brilliantly against world champions Australia in the quarterfinal and took a 2-0 lead before running out of steam and finally losing 2-7.
Against fifth ranked Belgium today, India took the lead in the 59th minute through Nikkin Thimmaiah before conceding two late goals to lose the encounter.
Walsh was full of praise for his boys but the Australian didn't mince words when it came to point out errors.
"To go without goals till the 59th minute shows that our defence is improving. (Goalkeeper) P R Sreejesh was brilliant. He made many saves for us. But Sardar (Singh) didn't have the best outing today," the coach said.
"Towards the end we conceded careless goals and you can't be doing this in a big tournament. But our young strikers did a good job. Yuvraj (Walmiki) and Affan (Yousuf) produced solid performances and that's the positive to come out of this tournament," Walsh said.
"They need more experience but they showed (here) that they can play."
Walsh also hailed Belgium for their spirited fight back.
"Belgium dominated the first period and we won the first half of the second period. They created opportunities than we did," he said.
India captain Sardar Singh agreed with his coach and said the win against Germany did a world of good to their confidence.
"As I said before we need to win more matches against world's top teams to raise our confidence. The players felt mentally stronger after the win against Germany. The more we play top teams the more our confidence will grow," he said.
Image: Terry Walsh