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Azlan Shah: Sardar demands more responsibility from forwards

April 07, 2015 14:39 IST

India players celebrate a goal against New Zealand on Monday

India players celebrate a goal against New Zealand on Monday. Photograph: Hockey India/Facebook

India missed chances aplenty in their opening two games of the ongoing 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament and national captain Sardar Singh minced no words when he said that the team's forwardline will have to play more responsibly to give themselves any chance of reaching the final.

Under new chief coach Paul van Ass, India is still searching for their first win in the tournament following a 1-1 draw against Korea in their opener and then a 1-2 loss at the hands of New Zealand at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Monday.

The Indians created plenty of scoring opportunities in the two games but the strikers, especially Ramandeep Singh failed to deliver. With one goal apiece, Akashdeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah's performance can be termed as satisfactory but Ramandeep has been a complete letdown.

"We have seen in the last two matches, finishing has been a problem for us. The strikers need to play more responsibly because every single ball has value. We need to be sharper inside the 25 metre circle. We are also witnessing some problems in trapping the ball," Sardar said ahead of India's next match Malaysia on Wednesday.

"In any tournament every participating team's target is to reach the final. If we timely avail our chances in the coming matches we will get positive results," he said in an optimistic note.

The Azlan Shah Cup is not only Dutchman Van Ass' first international assignment with the team but also kickstarts India's preparation for next year's Rio Olympics.

"This tournament is our first preparation for Rio Olympics. We are working on various things here. We are working on how to play under pressure, how to lift our morale after a loss. It is a learning process for us.

"But as a team we need to back each other," Sardar said.

Sardar did not hide his disappointment over the results of the opening two games but said India's main target in this tournament is to play well and grow as a team, which he feels they are doing.

"Yes we are little disappointed with results because we have played better than our opponents. All the players have been playing well since last year so they have high expectations," the India skipper said.

"Our target in this tournament is to play well. At the end of the day we should be satisfied that we are growing as a team. We also need to look at the mistakes which we are committing here and learn from them.

"We are trying a few new things in the midfield and forwardline. The new coach (Van Ass) is teaching us plenty of tactical things but it will take some time," he said.

"The good thing is that we are getting the chance to play competitive, pressure games here," Sardar signed off.

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