An inexperienced forward line, open and aggressive play against an opponent on the rampage and leaden-footed defenders were the cause for India's humiliating 7-1 thrashing by World No 1 Australia in a men's preliminary round Group A hockey match at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, according to Joaquim Carvalho, who represented India in the 1984 Olympics.
Carvalho said the major problem with the team on Sunday was having inexperienced forwards, who could not capitalise on the 10-11 chances they created. He did have a point as an experienced forward like Akashdeep Singh or SV Sunil, who were in the camp but were ignored, could have made better use of the chances.
What also hurt the team's chances was the goalline save affected by Andrew Oglivie off a penalty corner by Rupinderpal Singh. "That was very unlucky. If they had scored at that juncture, that could have changed the course of the match. There were some good attempts in the first quarter but the forwards could not capitalise," said Carvalho.
India earned five penalty corners but wasted all
Carvalho said the team erred by going for open and aggressive play against an opponent who was coming at them strongly.
"When Australia were coming at them so aggressively, they should have closed the flanks and tightened up the game, tried to push the ball back through overhead shots and relieve pressure. The defence had a totally off day and they were very slow, maybe because they were playing on successive days after taking on New Zealand on Saturday," said Carvalho.
"Though Australia was also playing their second match in a row, they did not look so affected. I also don't understand why our guys were not physical in their approach, why did they not use their bodies to stop the opponents, they could have given fouls but that could have broken their rhythm," said Carvalho.
Nothing worked for India as they failed to execute their game in all departments. The Kookaburras closely marked midfielder and skipper Manpreet Singh and that impacted the Indian performance. Carvalho said it was one bad day for the team and they should do their best to lift themselves up for the remaining matches.
Crucial matches ahead
"The remaining matches are very crucial as we need to recover from such a demoralising defeat and beat teams like Spain and Argentina, which is not easy. Also conceding so many goals means the goal difference is now very poor (-5) and that may come into play in the later stages. They have to win all three matches so that things like goal difference don't come into play," he said.
Indeed, the position in the group was quite interesting after defending champions Argentina defeated hosts Japan to recover from their shock draw against Spain on Saturday.
New Zealand, which had lost to India on Saturday, came back to prevail over Spain 4-3. Thus after two matches, Australia have six points from two wins, Argentina have four from a win and a draw while India and New Zealand have three points from a win from two games -- but the Black Sticks are third on goal difference.
Spain are placed fifth with one point from two matches while hosts Japan bring the rear, having lost both their matches so far.