India coach Graham Reid said poor execution in the attack by his players was the reason for their failure to pull off a big win against Wales in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Hockey World Cup here on Thursday, because of which they lost out on a direct berth in quarterfinals.
India needed to beat Wales by a margin of eight goals but struggled to a 4-2 win and thus finished second behind England in Pool D and will now have to go through the Crossover stage, where they will meet New Zealand.
Reid was not surprised by his forwards failing to take an early lead against Wales, who packed their defence. “If you see the England-Wales game, they did not score till the second quarter. It’s quite common against a team that plays like they do to have the first quarter bumping head against the defensive wall and trying to find a way through. I thought we still created a lot of opportunities tonight but unfortunately, we did not execute the way we should. That is the disappointing part,” said Reid in the post-match press conference.
HAPPY TO FIGHT IT OUT
However, the coach also saw a positive result for India, saying the fighting display put up by his team was a good thing.
“For me, the good part was that the team faced some good fight in certain parts of the game, other parts we still have to cut the gap down. One of the positives to come from this game is that we had to fight to win the game. My experience of the World Cup is that there is no clear road to the gold medal. Every road is different, every team is different. What I do know is that when you fight for a win, when you dig deep into what we had to do tonight, that stands you in good stead. So, that is what I was pleased about. even though we could not get directly into the quarterfinals,” Reid added.
Reid said the reason for his forward’s poor finishing was that they crowded the final third a lot and thus ran into each other.
“Of course, Wales put up a very strong defence but we could have done with some better finishing,” the Australian said.
The coach said that this will not put extra pressure on his boys as they were already aware that the route to a medal in the World Cup is not a straight line but a tough climb.
“Now we have a crossover game against New Zealand and that’s going to be tough. We played them here in the Pro League and our first game against them was very tough, the second game was a bit easier but I am telling you they will come out just like Wales, energised. Looking forward to that match,” said Reid, who had guided India to a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The Indian coach admitted that the team missed the creative brilliance of midfielder Hardik Singh, who missed the match with an injury but said that did not have a bearing on the match result.
“We have played the Olympics with 16 players so I would not say that was the reason (for today’s poor performance),” said the 64-year-old coach. He said with Hardik in the lineup, his forwards would have enjoyed better supply.
Reid said that Hardik is recovering well and a call on his availability for the Crossover match will be taken on January 21.