It is time we cross the semifinal hurdle, says Hockey India coach Roelant Oltmans
Inconsistency continued to haunt India as the hosts conceded an early goal to lose 0-1 to Belgium in the second semifinal.
Raipur: India on Saturday lost 0-1 to Belgium in the semifinals of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final here and the home team's chief coach Roelant Oltmans said it is time the past masters of the game go beyond the last four stage of a major international tournament.
Asked whether he was satisfied with India's performance in the tournament, Oltmans said: "I am never satisfied. It's good to be in the semifinals which means that we are close to no.4 but we can be more close.
"But we failed to cross the semifinals in the last three major tournaments and that is what we have to cope with. The boys deserve to make that step," he said.
"It is quite an achievement to be in the semifinals of a major tournament but as a team we want to win it. We need to have that belief that we can win this sort of matches."
Inconsistency continued to haunt India as the hosts conceded an early goal to lose 0-1 to Belgium in the second semifinal at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium.
India conceded a soft goal as early as in the fifth minute when Cedric Charlier scored from a field strike for Belgium.
The Indians were slow to get off the blocks as they hardly troubled the Belgian defence in the first two quarters. But the hosts came out with more purpose after the change of ends to create numerous scoring opportunities what the forwardline failed to finish off the moves.
After failing to register a single shot at the opposition goal in the first 30 minutes, India managed 11 tries in the last two quarters but failed to convert those into goals.
"The first two quarters were for Belgium but I think the next two quarters we played well and belonged to us. We did everything to score a goal. We created chances but sometimes luck is not in your side and that's part of the game," he said.
"We were close but just not good enough at the moment."
Oltmans, however, rued the fact that his wards failed to score enough goals in the tournament.
"The team played well. In the first two quarters they didn't take enough initiative but in the third and fourth quarter they definitely did. So I am pleased with the way they were able to change the game in the third and fourth quarter. But we need to score on our skills because throughout the tournament we didn't score enough goals. So far we scored only four goals five matches and that's not enough," he said.
Interestingly, it was one of the rare semifinal of an international tournament where the teams failed to secure a single penalty corner.
In search of a penalty corner in the dying moments of the game, India asked for a referral but the video umpire thought otherwise, a decision which did not go down well with Oltmans.
"It's always difficult to discus about decisions but I feel a tackle like this for sure should have been penalised. From my point of view the defender should have been penalised, he said.
India skipper Sardar Singh feels the team need to work on their decision making.
"Overall performance of the team was good but as the coach said we conceded a soft goal at the start. The third and fourth quarter completely belonged to us. We created plenty of chances but couldn't avail it.
"We need to work more on our decision making, our final pass," he said.
Belgium coach Shane McLeod lauded his backline for their gritty performance to keep India at bay.
"It was a very tight game. It worked in our favour that we got an early goal and for the rest of the game we were just holding on. India put us under a lot of pressure. Towards the end they were getting some ascendancy and it was difficult for us. But certainly I was very happy with our defence," he said.
"We had to do a lot of work on stopping their corners. With a weapon like that you have to be very careful. But again we were very clinical in our defence today."
Asked about his view on the penalty corner which India were asking for in the final minutes of the match, the Belgium coach said: "What I thought happened was the ball came from the keeper and it went high but there wasn't anyone close enough to influence the play. So from our perspective they got it right."