New Delhi: Conceding a goal within five minutes into the match played a huge role in India`s defeat in all important London Olympic Qualification final against South Africa, coach C R Kumar said.
India were down by one goal as early as in the fourth minute of the game, and it proved costly as the home team played catch-up hockey from there to eventually lose the title clash 1-3.
"We conceded two soft goals in the first half and it created problems for us. The early goals put pressure on us. It is difficult to make comeback, especially in these conditions when you are 0-2 down," a visibly disappointed Kumar said at the post match press conference.
"We played best possible hockey in the 70 minutes but we couldn`t convert a couple of good chances. All said and done, South Africa deserved the win. They played really well."
Kumar said women`s hockey in India need more exposure at the grass root level if they wish to compete against top teams of the world.
"We need to have good support staff right from the grassroot level. We need top level competition in the domestic level. The players also need to understand the value of playing in the Olympics," he said.
Kumar joined as India coach in April last year, and he said he is no mood to quit his position.
"I had only eight months with the team and all know that the girls have shown progress. If Hockey India is willing to continue with me, I am ready to help the team," he said.
India captain Asunta Lakra was disappointed with the result but promised to return stronger from this experience.
"Everyone`s dream is to be an Olympian but we couldn?t realise it. The loss is a learning experience for us and we will work hard from here to be among the top teams," she said.
South Africa captain Marsha Marescia said the win proved a point to their Olympic Committee, which forced them to play in the qualifiers despite already booking their place in the London Games by winning the continental championships.
"The win was a nice way to prove a point (to the South African Olympic Committee). The team played really well in this week," she said.