India now knows to handle big games: Sreejesh

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 9 (IANS) After beating Argentina 2-1 in a Pool B match of the Rio Olympics, Indian hockey captain P.R. Sreejesh on Tuesday said the team has learnt to handle big games from its previous mistakes.

Riding on Chinglensana (8th minute) and Kothajit Khadangbam’s (35th) goals, India got its second win at the quadrennial games after winning the opener against Ireland 3-2 before going down to Germany 1-2 on Monday.

Sreejesh said the team has co-ordinated well in the dying moments of the match on Tuesday and is focussed on booking their place in the quarter-finals.

“Our strategy turned out to be good. The last 15 minutes was very tough but the defenders did a wonderful job. We conceded a goal, but saved many attempts. As a goalkeeper, it’s my job to give life to the team in the dying moments of the game, and we did that,” he said after the match.

“Actually, we don’t need to focus on the league games, but need to look forward to the quarter finals. We learnt from yesterday’s defeat against Germany, where the second goal came in the last few seconds. There was less coordination and today we learnt from that well.”

“The team has come long way from 2012 London Olympics (where India lost all matches) and we want to go higher and higher and defeat the top four ranked teams. Indian team now knows how to handle big games,” he added.

Hailing the performance of his wards, head coach Roelant Oltmans said: “There was a lot of pressure in the last quarter, but the players did well. We played clever and kept the ball down, which was good.”

“The aim is to try and anticipate the opponents and create space for our forwards. But I feel today at times we were not patient enough and many of Athe boys played long balls which was not part of the plan.”

About the injuries on the field, Oltmans said: “You have to play aggressively but at the same time we have be more careful and you must have patience.”

“We are close to quarter-final and I am not going to change the team. My approach is to play all the players and that’s going to remain the same,” he said when asked on the team composition.

–IANS

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