Sreejesh ‘took the Australian bullets’ when India’s hockey defence was in snooze mode
The Australian forwards entered the Indian half like a drive-by means of attaining objectives. Unchecked, they approached the 23-yard line, then stormed into the placing circle and shot bullets off their sticks. The sole line of defense, they confronted was goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who was “left to the mercy” of the attackers by India’s defense in Tokyo.
India misplaced 1-7, the worst defeat at the Olympics for them, since the 1-6 scoreline towards the identical opposition at the 1976 Montreal Games.
But it is nonetheless early days in Tokyo, with three extra video games left to play in the pool stage. Finishing in the prime 4 to succeed in the quarterfinals stays vary a lot inside India’s attain. But the key to constructing as much as that every one-essential quarterfinal will likely be to regroup and go away a forgettable sport for the critics to gnaw on.
That, nonetheless, does not imply the shortcomings must be veiled. What occurred at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Sunday must be acknowledged. It has to be accepted that such defeats should not occur on the largest stage, particularly when a lot has been put into the sport to organize for Tokyo 2020.
“It was pathetic play, with a poor plan,” former India striker and two-time Olympian Jagbir Singh did not mince his phrases when contacted by TOI.
The Hockey India assume-tank selected a younger placing line, with Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay the leaders of it. The midfield is in the ready palms of skipper Manpreet Singh. The defense — comprising Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, and Surender Kumar in the lead — has been tagged as this Indian group’s better part over a final couple of years in no matter competitions they may get to play in.
The attackers are thought of as the first line of defense in trendy hockey when the opponents have the ball, adopted by the midfield after which comes the defense. But these first two strains of defense have been absent in India’s play. And when the ball entered India’s ‘D’, the defenders have been principally non-existent. When they have been there, they selected to defend principally inside the placing circle, fairly than on prime of it.
“I can pick on the young players only if the seniors haven’t committed mistakes,” mentioned Jagbir. “There were elementary mistakes in trapping and while stopping at penalty corners.
“Why ought to Sreejesh be held accountable? If you allow a goalkeeper to the mercy of any attacking line, he must take all the bullets with none defend.”
Jagbir felt he could see panic and anxiety in the Indian players, which he feels is unacceptable when playing at the Olympics — whoever the opposition might be.
“When are we shy to sort out or when can we throw our stick in a rush sort out? Why and when does this occur? These are all indicators of panic, strain,” the former Olympian reckoned.
“At the identical time, this (strain) is regular. I’d not blame the boys for that. But even when that is regular, elementary errors are usually not acceptable at a giant stage like the Olympics.”
Currently, in the USA, former India coach Harendra Singh couldn’t watch the game and could only follow it on social media. He, however, advised against reading a whole lot into the scoreline.
“We should not learn an excessive amount of into this end result, as a result of the format of the competitors is such,” Harendra, who earlier this year was appointed the coach of the US men’s team and has thus moved to America, told.
“In this format, out of the six groups in your pool, it’s essential to end in the prime 4, which takes you thru to the quarterfinals. The event begins from there. If a group wins the quarterfinal, it will get two photographs at a medal,” said Harendra.
The 12 teams each in the men’s and women’s hockey competition at the Olympics are divided into two pools of six each. The Top four from both pools progress to the quarterfinals.
The Indian men’s team next plays Spain on Tuesday (July 27) after a day’s rest, after back-to-back games against New Zealand and Australia. India defeated New Zealand 3-2 in a nervous finish that saw some heroic saves by Sreejesh.
“I’d say as a participant in the beginning, each match is essential for me whether or not I play Australia or any weaker group,” said Jagbir. “But when I’m coming to the Olympics, I’m mentally ready that I cannot loosen up at any stage.
“Why do you think I call it (defeat against Australia) pathetic play? Not because we let in seven goals, but because we couldn’t make it 7-4, 7-5, or 7-6. Even Australia was trailing against Japan in their first match in Tokyo, but they managed to turn it around (won 5-3 after trailing 2-3),” Jagbir added.
“That fighting spirit, fightback to win was slightly missing for me in India’s game.
“Winning and dropping is an element of the sport. If we’ve misplaced in the present day, we might win tomorrow, however, provided that we will put this loss behind us.” Jagbir additional mentioned.