Unfortunate to lose, but learnt a lot: Junior hockey coach

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) Indian junior hockey team coach Harendra Singh on Tuesday said their penalty shoot-out loss in the final of the fifth Sultan of Johor Cup to Great Britain was unfortunate but the tournament taught them a lot too.

India returned home late on Monday night after finishing as the runner’s-up to Great Britain, losing the summit clash 3-4 in sudden death on Sunday after the regulation period score read 2-2. India captain Harjeet Singh was adjudged Player of the Tournament as India failed to defend the title for the third consecutive year.

“The final was a close affair and I feel bad for the boys who lost after coming so close. It’s unfortunate that even after our goalkeeper gave us life three times in the penalty shootout, the boys probably somewhere gave in to the pressure and the title slipped away from our reach,” Harendra said.

“However, our biggest learning from the tournament has been about our need to address our attack and midfield on certain areas and I am confident we will return victorious in our forthcoming tournaments.”

Harjeet said the loss “really hurts” knowing that they could have returned home with the winner’s trophy.

“We really tried hard and we played a good game but penalty shoot-outs are really unpredictable. But this loss really hurts. We return with a fair idea of the areas where we need to work on so that we can return victorious in our next tournaments,” said Harjeet.

“It feels good to be awarded the Player of the Tournament but winning was most important. While this award adds to my confidence, a loss in the final still leaves a lot to desire within the team.”

Sumit Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh with three goals each were the top-scorers for India in the tournament.

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