Bhubaneswar: It was at the 2015 FIH Hockey World League Final in Raipur when India had managed to overcome a 0-2 goal-difference in the first half to eventually draw with the Netherlands 5-5 in regulation time at a crunch Bronze Medal match.
The team succeeded in the penalty shootout to earn their first-ever FIH Hockey World League Final medal.
On Sunday, the Indian Team under Chief Coach Graham Reid managed to pull off a similar dream-show where they came back from the dead to hold Max Caldas’s World No.3 squad 3-3 before they bagged the winning points with a 3-1 scoreline in penalty shootout. “If this probably happened to us two years ago (conceding early goals), we may not have been able to comeback. But I think our maturity, players taking responsibility and Coach’s instructions of ‘tackle and play forward’ has helped us. There is definitely a change in attitude and how we approach a game even when we are down,” expressed dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh who was adjusted Man of the Match on Sunday.
Having won a high-octane match on Saturday, where India beat the visitors 5-2, the home team didn’t look as dangerous as they did in their first game. But they were willing to take risks. “What was good that we struggled to win this match and sometimes, it’s good to struggle for a win because you learn a lot and also it is proof to us that if we apply ourselves and use some aggressiveness, we can bounce back. And I believe when something similar (conceding goals early) happens to us again, we can be confident of making a comeback,” Chief Coach Reid explained after the match.
In the upcoming weeks ahead of their tie against Belgium and Australia in February, Reid believes the team has scope to improve on one-on-one tackling and also fine tune their 3D skills to create space in the opponent’s circle. “We will be taking a short break now and return to camp on Sunday. We will have two weeks before we face Belgium and then less than two week later we take on Australia. I still feel our one-on-one tackling can improve and we have also been working on 3D skills to beat players in short space. This can help create PCs and when you have a world-class battery for PC, we can definitely make use of this,” Reid said further adding that he would like to see the team keep up the momentum in February.
“I like the analogy of referring to these weekend matches as Semi-Finals and Finals. This helps us switch on at the right moment. In the next few weeks ahead of our matches against Belgium and Australia, the most important thing would be to keep learning and improving,” he said.