Players need to get over the debacle: Balbir

Ipoh: India`s hockey team manager Balbir Singh says the players must show the resolve required of international teams to regain their composure after being pushed out of medal contention in the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup.

"The players now need to show the mental strength to recover from the disastrous performance and produce a credible display in the next match. That`s what international sport is all about," said Balbir, an Olympian himself.

Better known in hockey circles as Col. Balbir Singh, he was a long-time Indian Army player who went on to captain and later coach the Services team.

After retirement, he coached the Indian women`s national squad. In recent times, he has been a national selector for the men`s squad.

India will compete in the playoff for the fifth and sixth positions, Balbir says the players should get the past dejections out of their minds and focus on the task at hand.

"What has happened is history, but we can work towards an improved show tomorrow and try to claim the fifth spot," he said.

"The boys need to forget the past and try to give their best. The players are downcast, but recovering," said Balbir, trying to play his part in motivating players who are dejected after the 3-7 drubbing they received from New Zealand in the last match on Friday.

"India has only played well in patches. Why just talk about the match against New Zealand, our game has been prone to errors in the earlier matches as well," he said.

"The players are aware that they have been repeating mistakes in each outing. They also realise that one cannot survive in international hockey by making such mistakes, and so many of them in one match," said Balbir Singh.

"The half-line has not been functional and that`s not just given the territorial advantage to the rivals, it has also forced India to defend deep inside their own territory for long periods. It was followed by the problem of bad passing," he said.

Balbir conceded that the Indian team had not been able to absorb the pressure exerted by the rivals, except in the match against Australia in which India managed to hold the world champions to a 1-1 draw.

The other highlights of India`s outing in this tournament were the victories over Britain, who are here with a near full-strength team preparing for the 2012 London Olympics, and hosts Malaysia.

India dominated the first sessions of all three other matches - against South Korea, reigning Asian Games champions Pakistan and New Zealand - but their efforts came to a naught due to poor second-half displays in each of these games as they squandered the lead to end up losers.

The loss to Pakistan on Thursday dashed India`s hopes of making the final in the tournament which the young Indian team began with the aspirations of completing a hat-trick of titles.

India were the outright winners here in 2009 and shared the title with South Korea after the final in 2010 was disrupted by bad weather.

India came here without several top players due to injuries and disciplinary action for not turning up at the preparatory camp.

"What`s the use of cribbing about players who were not here. The absence of several top national players gave the youngsters the chance of showcase their skills, but the overall performance fell shot of expectations," said Balbir Singh.