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Rajinder Column
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A win is always a win (8/19/2003)
--Rajinder Singh
19/8 A win always lifts the morale of the team, however it comes. The win over Germany has given us three points but I must confess I’m not happy with the performance.

It was obvious that the boys were tired and dull when they started against the Germans and the recovery of my team after a tough game against the Dutch was slow. We did not play the way we wanted. Probably the boys got complacent, thinking they were playing against their second-string team.

The Germans were playing their first game of the tournament and thus were fresh. But let’s make one thing clear. They are a very good team, very well-balanced and their defence drills were very impressive. They played a tough and intelligent game and the most striking aspect about their game was man-to-man marking.

Of course, they upset our rhythm and we failed to get a single penalty corner in the first half. If we would have managed a goal in the first session, the end result would have been different. Yet, I’m happy about the fact that the boys came back from 1-2 to win. They showed the desire to fight and that is the most heartening thing for a coach.

May be we did not play 100 per cent but we should not make comparisons with the game against Holland. It’s very rare to see an Indian team play like that. But for those last six-seven minutes, we had outclassed the best team in the world.

For me, consistency is the key word. Our next game against Australia tomorrow is again doing to be a very tough affair. The Aussies have just one point and would want to go all out now. What is the most surprising bit about them is that they are playing at 60-70 per cent of their abilities. Even in Australia during the three-nation tournament, they seemed to be holding back. I don’t know why – it could be a strategy or simply that they are not gelling. But if they find their rhythm, we will have a very difficult time.

There is lot of talk about our team’s fitness. I must say that there are no worries on that count. Yes, Dilip Tirkey is crucial to our plans. I played him for almost 60 minutes against Germany and he was able to take the load. There was a slight problem with his right hamstring muscle but I’m sure he will play the full tournament. The team doctor and trainer are looking after him. Besides, he is mentally very strong.

I talked to the boys a lot last night. They are feeling much better now that they have won. Yes, they were a bit down after the Holland game but they realize that it is still a long, tough road ahead. And they are willing to go all the way.

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