Ipoh: Pleased with his wards showing in the 6-1 thrashing of Malaysia in the must-win
match, Indian men's hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans said he is hopeful of giving world champions Australia a keen contest in the final of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Sunday.
"I'm pleased to see the energy of the boys. That's what you want to see as a coach," said Oltmans, who had set a target of finishing among the medalists in the tournament.
The Indian victory secured them the second spot in the round-robin league standings with 12 points, edging past defending champions New Zealand on 11 points. Australia duly topped the standings with the maximum 18 points from six successive victories.
"The finals are always special. I want to test and see what our boys will do," said Oltmans.
"I'm happy that the team played strongly and applied pressure. That is why we were on top of it throughout. Now we need to focus on the final," he said.
"Playing the final against Australia is a great opportunity for us," said the Dutchman, aware of the 5-1 hammering Australia gave to India in their league encounter earlier in the tournament.
"Yes we did lose by a big margin, but the scoreline is a bit harsh. We played a good game, but the outcome was terrible. In the final, we ought to try to combine a good game with a good outcome," the coach said.
Oltmans acknowledged Australia's world no. 1 standing but expect his boys to give the Kookaburras a run for their money.
"Australia are the best, there's no doubt about that. We hope to give them a good contest," he said.
Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen said India's early thrust put the game beyond his team's reach.
"I'm disappointed with the early goals, but the boys fought hard," said Van Huizen.
"The game was over when we conceded four goals in the first half."