Hockey World Cup 2018: India coach Harendra Singh says change of structure, game plan at half-time worked against Belgium

Bhubaneswar: India's chief coach Harendra Singh said a change of structure and game plan at half-time turned things around for his side after conceding an early goal in the 2-2 draw against Belgium in a Pool C match of the men's hockey World Cup on Sunday.

India gave away a goal in the eighth minute before bouncing back strongly after half-time to lead 2-1. But Belgium struck four minutes from the hooter to snatch a 2-2 draw in an evenly-contested match.

 Hockey World Cup 2018: India coach Harendra Singh says change of structure, game plan at half-time worked against Belgium

Simranjeet Singh scored India's second goal against Belgium. PTI/Ashok Bhaumik

Harendra said he was not surprised by Belgium's full press tactics early on.

"We were not surprised in the first quarter with Belgium's full press. We had discussed it. They knew as the match progresses, India will be dangerous. My boys utilised the crowd's energy," the Harendra said after the match.

"In the first half, we were running behind the ball, we didn't have enough possession. We changed the structure slightly (at half-time). That worked really well. We started shifting the ball vertically," he said.

He said Belgium were left with little gas in the third and fourth quarters.

"We did double tackling. Whether we are behind the ball or chasing it, we maintain pace."

Harendra said fitness played a big part in India's performance.

"I feel proud about our fitness. Credit goes to Robin (Arkell). I have never seen such a fit Indian team," he said.

"Whether we have the ball or not, we can't drop our energy. We need to make opponents' life miserable."

The coach said India's USP was playing attacking hockey and they can't compromise on that.

"We have decided what suits Indian hockey, that is more important. India can't play with a defensive approach," he said.

Harendra said Belgium scored the equaliser because of his side's defensive lapse.

"I don't call it misfortune (conceding in final few minutes). The ball was with us. We snatched the ball, we tried to run with it, we should have passed. Getting turnover is an art but giving turnovers is suicide," he said.

India are currently placed at the top of Pool C because of a better goal difference than Belgium but Harendra feels the pool is still wide open.

"There are no ifs and buts for us. In the last game, we have a target what to do to get into top two. That one match will decide if we play the quarters directly or go to crossovers," he said.

"The pool is wide open because Belgium is 1 up, we are 5 up (on goal difference). Both of us have six-day rest. We will recover, regenerate.

For the full Hockey World Cup 2018 schedule, click here

For all the results from the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here

For the Hockey World Cup 2018 standings, click here

To read stories from our Hockey World Cup memories series, click here

To read legends' take on Indian hockey team's performances at the World Cup, click here

To read stories from The Hockey Insider series, click here

Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.

Updated Date: Dec 03, 2018 09:09:58 IST