New Delhi: Indian women's hockey team has returned with a creditable bronze from the 17th Asian Games but the team's chief coach Neil Hawgood feels his wards deserved a better "colour of the medal" going by their performance in the continental extravaganza.
The Australian said had it not been for a few mistakes in two games -- against China and South Korea in the semifinal -- India could have finished at higher podium position.
"We really played well in this tournament. But I am little disappointed with the fact that inspite of playing better hockey against Korea we couldn't make it to the final. We played well enough to beat Korea," Hawgood told PTI in an interview after returning from Incheon, South Korea.
"We had more circle penetrations. We dominated the game but two lapses cost us the game. Overall I am very pleased with our performance but I feel there was another medal out there which we could have played for," he added.
Hawgood said two bad games robbed his side of a place in the final.
"Two lapses in two games cost us a place in the final. The loss against China in the final one-and-half minute of the match cost us as if we would have drawn the game and would have finished on top of our pool and played Japan in the semifinal," he said.
India conceded a late goal to go down 1-2 against China in the pool stages before slumping to a 1-3 defeat against hosts South Korea in the semifinal inspite of being the better side on the turf.
All said and done Hawgood feels it is the biggest achievement by the Indian eves under his tutelage tile date.
"It's a big achievement. Going by our performances, there is little bit of consistency which has developed in our game.
"But we shouldn't get carried away with our success and need to recognise our weaknesses," he said.Asked how long India will take to match top teams like world champions Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Argentina, Hawgood said the need of the hour was to develop hockey at the grassroot level.
"All these teams have a history of development which is not there in India. There is abundance of talent in India which we need to tap.
"We need to work on the domestic structure. By domestic structure I mean we need to have development programme starting from 8 to 16 years, work of their basic skills. But in the last two-and-half years I have seen the change and its slowly starting to take shape," the chief coach said.
Having failed to secure a direct berth in 2016 Olympics unlike their male counterparts, Hawgood said the Indian eves will now have to do a lot of hardwork to come out with flying colours in the Rio Games qualifiers.
The Indian eves now have a two-and-a-half weeks break before assembling again to prepare themselves for their next assignment -- an away Test series against Australia in December.