Hockey: Space management in defence causing India problems, says coach Van Ass

Antwerp: Having eked out a narrow 3-2 win over France in their opening match of the Hockey World League Semifinals, India men's coach Paul van Ass has admitted that his team needs to improve its space management while falling back to defend its citadel.

With the match winner coming just two minutes from the hooter, India managed to pull off a win here last night but not before their defence was given a harrowing time by the fast overlapping French strikers, who capitalised on counters to twice stun them.

 Hockey: Space management in defence causing India problems, says coach Van Ass

India beat France 3-2. FIH

"We should have been better in managing space," said van Ass, adding, "it was always difficult to fall back and catch up when mounting an attack".

India allowed plenty of space in their own territory to France, placed nine spots behind them in the world rankings, and the coach felt that the French strikers were quite fast and built up the counter-attacks briskly.

"Maybe we were not quick enough to close the angles when falling back. It is a learning process and does take time.

"They came in really fast. It is not easy to close in so quickly, but I would like to see that happen," insisted van Ass.

He, however, heaved a sigh of relief at the late goal by Ramandeep Singh, which secured India full three points from their first fixture. "We are working on a few things and I am happy at the way things are going," said van Ass.

Van Ass said he never expected the campaign opener to be an easy outing as opening matches could always be tricky and produce some surprise results.

"There is always some unpredictability at the start of any tournament. Winning the first match is important. What was significant was not that we allowed the rivals too much space inside our territory, but the fact that we managed to score the third goal and earn full points," he said.

The French, meanwhile, were shattered at conceding the late match-winner to India and striker Brisac said it was a massive disappointment for his side.

"We were confident and we played a good game, but there is no consolation for conceding the goal so late in the match," said Brisac.

"We wanted at least one point from this game and came very close to securing that," he added.

PTI

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2015 20:32:04 IST