India's head coach Graham Reid stated on Sunday that the team requires a coach to focus on mental conditioning going forward. India lost to New Zealand in a penalty shootout during a crossover match at the hockey World Cup, resulting in their elimination from the tournament.
The Mental Aspect
Reid's comments could be an indication that his team was not able to deal with the mental aspect of the game as the home side once again dominated their crossover match but squandered a two-goal lead twice to end at 3-3 in the regulation time. "We need to do something different perhaps. Following this, we will work on how we can get a mental coach involved. I think that is an important part for the future of the team," a distraught Reid said at the post-match conference.
"As far as the drills or training are concerned, we do what all other teams do. I have been in this game for a long time and I know what other teams are doing. If there is anything necessary, a silver bullet out there, I do think that (is) mentally."
The Golden Chance
In the shootout, India and New Zealand were tied 3-3 after five shots. Captain Harmanpreet Singh had the chance to seal the match in the first round of sudden death when New Zealand's Nic Woods fluffed his chance, but he inexplicably chose to take a direct hit from a distance and wasted the golden chance.
Next, both Raj Kumar Pal and Sean Findlay scored as the scores were tied. Both Sukhjeet and Hayden Phillips missed next to keep the scoreline level. Shamsher Singh finally missed while Sam Lane converted to seal a 5-4 shootout win for New Zealand.
Asked why he took a shot like that in a crucial moment, Harmanpreet said, "It was a good opportunity and I wanted to score and seal the match. But it did not happen."
On whether captaincy has put pressure on him and affected his performance, he said, "It is a team game. Everybody has been talking about my (lack of) penalty corner conversions. But I had not gone into a match without wanting to score. I feel no pressure. I have to work harder and the same for the team also." Reid said the team would need to go back to the drawing board and sort out the mistakes.
Lack Of Consistency
"Tonight, we lacked consistency. In the last quarter, for example, we let ourselves down. We threw the ball away, and kept doing stuff like that, things like that made it very difficult for ourselves. Every team has at some stage had certain issues like converting circle penetration. We need to go back to the drawing board a little bit later," he said.
He refused to make any comments on whether the current team was the best available for the World Cup. "I am not making comments on the players. We still have to play two matches (classification matches for 9th to 16th place)."
"We made a lot of circle penetration but we could not convert them. Three or four more (goals) could have been there." The Australian said the lack of penalty corner conversion was not the only issue against New Zealand.
"PC was a factor but not the only one. The problem tonight was every time we won the ball we gave it back (to the opponents) and that happened many times. That was the telling factor and you can't do that at this level." Reid, whose tenure is up to the 2024 Olympics, gave no hints of leaving the job as he listed the matches coming up. "After these two classification matches, we have Pro League matches against Germany and Australia and then we have a Test series against Australia. But our focus is on the next match."
India will next face Japan in a classification match on January 26.
Also Read: Hockey World Cup 2023 | IND vs NZ, Highlights: India lose in shootouts 4-5, knocked out of QF race