Rio de Janeiro: India’s men’s team hockey captain rued that his side failed to make the most of the penalty corners they got late in the 1-2 loss against the Netherlands in a Pool B match of the Olympic Games here on Thursday.
Rogier Hofman’s 32nd minute goal was cancelled out by Indian drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath in the 38th minute. Penalty corner specialist Mink van der Weerden scored the winner for the Dutchmen in the 54th minute.
In their bid to equalise, India removed goalkeeper Sreejesh to bring in an extra outfield player and their attack was fruitful, earning them as many as five back-to-back penalty corners.
But penalty corner specialists Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh failed to convert them, as India suffered second loss in four Pool B games.
“We took out the goalkeeper four minutes before the end of the game as a strategy because that adds a player to your team and whether we lose by 2-1 or 3-1 does not matter. In the dying moments you want to go all aggressive to save the match,” Sreejesh told reporters after the game.
“We got many opportunities even playing with nine players, but unfortunately we could not convert the penalty corners that we got. It was not a good day for us. It was rather a bad day.”
Despite the loss, India remained in the third spot with six points, while the Netherlands moved to the top spot with 10 points. Two-time defending champions Germany, second in the table with three wins, and the Netherlands are the two teams who have already secured their positions in the quarter-finals.
India will play Canada in their final pool game where even a draw will be enough to take them to the quarter-finals. If they lose against the Canadians, it will boil down to goal differences.
Chief coach Roelant Oltmans said that his wards will come out fresher to seal the deal against Canda.
“Tomorrow you will see a fresh India,” an optimistic Oltmans said.
Reacting to the game, Oltmans said that losing Raghunath and Sunil for indiscipline for 10 minutes and five minutes respectively due to yellow cards in the third quarter changed the momentum of the match as it allowed the Dutchmen to build further pressure on his team that had only eight outfield players.
India had also suffered due to yellow cards in their previous games. Oltmans was also worried by the problem of getting cards at crucial moments.
“We were the attacking side until we got two yellow cards in the game. That was a clear change in the game. I am concerned that we are getting too many yellow cards. Before that the game was in our favour,” Oltmans rued.
“Getting cards is an area I am not happy with. Small areas where we are still lacking, but we are close to show that we are well among the top teams in the world. We should be proud how in a tough situation we made it.”