Coach Harendra Singh said the unforced errors that the Indian men’s hockey team made in the semi-final against lower-ranked Malaysia cost it the match and, hence, has made the qualification to the 2020 Olympics tough.
Defending champions India were beaten in sudden death (7-6) after both teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time. A gold medal would have secured India’s qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Malaysia are the deserving winners. We committed too many unforced errors and paid the price. We did not keep things simple. We tried to show our Indian skills and by doing that we lost the momentum. It is a big setback for Indian hockey. The road to Olympics is a lot bumpier now. We missed the easiest chance to qualify,” said Harendra.
It was only Malaysia, who had stunned India in the semi-finals of the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
Asked why Malaysia continues to trouble India, the coach said: “They were only looking to score on the counter and both their goals came from the counter.”
“We had a plan to shift and pass but we tried to hold the ball and made parallel passes. That cost us the game. Also, we committed too many unforced errors. It is unpardonable.”
Harendra, however, said India were not at fault in the shoot-out.
“Shoot-out is anybody’s game. If we would have won, we should not have celebrated. In shoot-out, turning around is a problem. If your centre of gravity is low then it is easier (to turn around), if it is high then it becomes a problem,” he said.
India had pumped in a record 76 goals in the group stage. Did it make them complacent?
“I don’t think so. We took them as serious practice matches. We never take any team lightly. But this loss is a setback for Indian hockey. Coaches will come and go.”
India still have to fight it out for the bronze play-off.
“The boys will have to pick themselves up. There is still a medal at stake,” Harendra said.