Ipoh: India coach Harendra Singh found it inexplicable in the manner his side let in soft goals during their humiliating 3-7 defeat against New Zealand in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Thursday. The crushing defeat dashed chances of a podium finish for the title holders.
India squandered the lead thrice before Andrew Hayward produced a hat-trick of drag-flicked goals to put the Black Sticks in command and ended India`s chance of claiming a medal in the event, which they won outright in 2009 and were joint champions along with South Korea last year.
India will now have to play the classification match for the fifth and sixth positions on Sunday.
"I have no answer to what happened, especially in the second half," said Harendra, accepting his side played "very badly".
"What will happen when you keep gifting away goals? If we keep giving the ball to the rivals on a platter, they will come and score," he said at the post-match press conference.
Harendra said the players need to follow instructions and apply the game plan in match situations.
"It does happen some times that players don`t follow instructions, even if it happens subconsciously," he said. "When you keep making the same mistakes, then it is not a mistake," he added.
The Indian coach complimented New Zealand for their performance as they registered their first victory out of five outings in this tournament.
"New Zealand played very well and kept pushing out defence," he said.
India captain Arjun Halappa shared similar views to that of the coach and said against the Black Sticks they kept on repeating the same mistakes that they had done in the past.
"I agree with the coach, the players need to stand up and take responsibility," said Halappa.
"We`ve been making the same mistakes, match after match. I`ve never ever seen such poor anticpation while defending penalty corners," he added.
New Zeaand coach Shane McLeod, meanwhile, praised his team for "playing well and pressing hard" hockey. "We pressed hard in the second half. Importantly, we managed to score on every opportunity," McLeod said.