Start remains a concern for Indian eves, says coach Kumar

New Delhi: With just three days left for the start of the hockey Olympic qualifiers, India coach C R Kumar is concerned about his wards performance in the initial stages of a match, as the home team came from a goal down to beat Canada 5-2 in a practice game on Tuesday.

The Indian eves, placed 13th in the world rankings, were in for a rude shock when Hannah Haughn gave Canada (20th) the lead in the opening moments of the practice game.

But as the match progressed, the Indians managed to get their acts together and scored through Jasjeet Kaur Handa, Joydeep Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur and Anuradha Devi to take a commanding 5-1 lead before Brienne Stairs reduced the margin.

"We didn`t start well. Our main concern remains our start and to rectify that we will need to make some structural changes," India coach Kumar said after the game at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Tuesday.

"Opponents will try to put pressure on our defence in the initial stages and take an early lead. But we will have to stop our opponents from penetrating our circle. We will have to release the ball quickly and can`t hang on to it. The midfielders will also have to drop a little bit and help the defence in the opening few minutes," he said.

But for the Indian coach the most heartening thing that came out of today`s game was the conversion rate of penalty corners. India converted three out of the four short corners they earned in the match.

"It`s good that we scored both from penalty corners as well as field goals. Our shots were accurate and on target today," Kumar said.

Canada coach Louis Mendonca too admitted that India and South Africa are the two sides to beat in this tournament.

"We are ranked fourth in this tournament but we will try and compete in every game. South Africa is a very experienced side and India at home are always difficult to beat," he said.

"We got to get better and need to be more consistent in defending penalty corners," said Mendonca, whose parents belong to Goa.


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