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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Plenty left to play for: Bharat Chetri

LONDON: Indian hockey team’s chances for a berth in the semifinals suffered a big jolt after losing 1-3 to New Zealand today but captain Bharat Chetri said that his side must not get dejected and they still have plenty to play for in the London Olympics.

India had earlier suffered a 2-3 loss to the Netherlands on Monday in their first outing on their return to the Olympic Games after eight years, having failed to qualify for the 2008 Games in Beijing.”It’s disappointing to start with two losses, but that does not mean we have nothing to play for,” Chetri said after the match.”We have three more games in the round robin league and then the playoffs. There is plenty to look forward to, and we’ll all try to put up a better show,” said the Indian captain, who himself is not having a very good tournament and today was replaced by second-choice goalkeeper R R Sreejesh at half-time.”We have to be mentally tough and try to play the remaining three pool match well,” Chetri said.India coach Michael Nobbs said his players played the second half well in both matches so far.”We seem to be playing only in the second half. I simply cannot figure out why the boys are not going out and playing their game from the beginning,” Nobbs said.”An early goal today should have made a change and we tried to take advantage of it, but New Zealand pressed hard and pinned us down,” he said.India took the lead in the second minute against New Zealand, but the erratic strikers and error-prone defenders then gave away the advantage to concede three goals before half-time.”We’ll have a discussion with the boys to find out what are they doing and why,” said Nobbs, adding that both teams were aware of each other’s game.”There is nothing secret these days, everyone is analysing the opponents,” said the coach, adding that New Zealand’s physical strength also proved troublesome for India.”New Zealand were quite physical. They are a monster side and have much more experience,” Nobbs said.New Zealand’s coach Shane McLeod said he was worried at the manner in which the game started and India took an early lead.”Look at the way the match began and India moved ahead in the second minute itself,” McLeod said. “I was hoping they did not go on in such a manner.””We played well to score three goals and got out campaign back on track after the loss to South Korea in the earlier outing,” said McLeod.”We dominated the first half and created the openings for those goals,” the New Zealand coach said.”The second half was more even, both us and India had their chances.”McLeod said New Zealand played to their strength today, after an indifferent display in the previous outing when they suffered a 0-2 defeat at the hands of South Korea.”The way we played in our first game was uncharacteristic, but this win over India gives us more confidence going into the next match,” he said.PTI

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