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2008 Azlan Shah Cup
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The Team Needs Back Up (4/22/2008)
--K. Arumugam
Indian women need to stay focus and display a game of character to stay in contention for the Beijing Olympics berth.

India suffered a setback on Sunday when Netherlands Antilles handed out a shocking 1-2 defeat. India should muster enough guts and gumption to come out of the shockey.

In the two matches played so far, the girls showed enormous skill, energy and enterprise. All match parameters point towards their dominance. If the scoreboard did not reflect this, there are some reasons and they are conspicuous too. To blame a forward or a penalty corner converter, for instance, will mask the real shortcomings that plague the team.

To start with, the team is yet to fall in groove and jell as a cohesive unit. That the team is under-prepared is telling on every stage. With whatever experienced gained here, the team can only show improvement in the coming days. In real terms, the field here in Kazan is still wide open. India has to play four matches in a week’s time and there is enough scope to command its share of wins.

The team is not that bad as it appears. What it lacks primarily is a sort of mental composure and toughness to stay focused on the job and play in a manner that manifest its true potential and resilent power. The team showed these vitals in ample measure in the last Asian Games and World Cup and there is no reason why it cannot do so now.

Most of the team play here have not often played among themselves and in such environment, the teams that will have patience, politeness and commits minimum mistakes will get the dividends. In other words, the team that has character will walk away with honours.

The job therefore rests with the management staff here. Coaches and the manager need to talk to the players, recreate them, and bring in a atmosphere so that the player will be at peace with themselves. It is better to avoid admonition and advice in the guise of remedy and motivation. The team is not less motivated or does it commit any comedy of errors. Not at all. The team is good, showing its class in spells. Its inherent strengths of creativeness and initiatives need to be activated – mentally and physically.

If the support team can have this character, the field team will also acquire one.

If the coaches would go into the details of drills it is not going to work. Changing a set piece, altering a penalty corner drill, or mutate any other aspect of the game at this stage will be of no use. Contrarily, it will send wrong signals as if there are gaps and lapses in the preparation. Players will be demoralized.

Players are in a hurry on the field. They are hurry to clear, hurry to pass, hurry to score. Moves are not built, most passes are neither powerful nor purposeful. There is no need for hurry. Why to hurry when the other team is cool. Beat the rival on their strength. Stay cool, be cool and by that fool the rival. Play a dull hockey, but a faultless one. The management here has to work more rather than the players.

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