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Japan team gets a C+ from coach (6/15/2019)
--s2h Team
As Japan gets preps up to play their last match in the FIH Men’s Series Final against USA for the third spot, coach Siegfried Aikman rates the team performance at C+. The grading comes despite Japan not losing a single match in the group stages (2 wins, 1 draw). After winning 6-2 over Poland in the crossovers, Japan faced India in semis and lost 2-7 despite a strong start.

“It is a C+ for me. Mental preparedness is also a part of our game. The moment we lose control, we get a lot of goals against us. Our hockey is decent or even a high level – we play fast and structured, we surprise and control and we also have skills. But, we can’t get higher points, if we are not mentally strong,” Aikman says.

Talking in detail about the match against India, Aikman said, “We were unlucky and lost momentum. Our players got card for nothing. When umpires fail, they give cards. Instead of accepting they can make mistakes, they give cards. But, I won’t blame them. Our players were not able to understand what was happening.”

Japan players had got two yellow cards and two green cards in the match against India. Though they had a great start in the match, scoring the first goal at the second minute and dominating the possession with well-structured game, they gave up to the pressure after India took a 4-2 lead from 2-2. The Japan team went off momentum, but maintained their structured passes, trying to break through the Indian defense but to no avail. And Coach Aikman, believes the team doesn’t deserve extra marks for the attempt as well.

Asked if he was being too harsh on the team he said, “We are not at the level where we can say we will do it tomorrow. We need to change and change doesn’t come gently. Change occurs when things get worse, not when everything is going right. In my coaching, I am very strict. My players understand it. So, they support me in being who I am.

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