Ipoh: Coach Roelant Oltmans on Wednesday lauded Mandeep Singh, describing him as the best striker in the Indian team after his three field goals secured them a 4-3 victory over rank outsiders Japan in the 26th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.
"Mandeep is always dangerous, a crazy guy. He is very difficult to defend," said Oltmans, singing paeans of the young striker who has reclaimed his spot in the national squad following a fine show in India's triumph in the Junior World Cup last December.
"In the circle, Mandeep creates chances out of nowhere. We have seen that many times. He's still very young, and he's getting better and better," the coach said.
Mandeep, the lean and nippy striker, celebrated his 22nd birthday in January. Oltmans said he would reach his prime around 24 or 25.
"If you look at the number of goals, he's surely out best striker," said Oltmans.
"Akashdeep Singh is the only other striker who has scored for us so far. Our remaining goals have all come from penalty corners."
Oltmans commended Mandeep's fitness and his work-ethic in the field.
"He is superbly fit. By the next Olympics, he'll produce a higher quality of hockey," Oltmans asserted.
"You can see not only in his attacking actions, but also the way Mandeep tries to put pressure on opponents. He's always working on regaining the ball and that is an important part of our defensive structure," he said.
"Mandeep is more or less the first defender when the opponents have got possession."
On India's narrow victory over Japan, Oltmans said his team was attacking too much at one stage and that allowed Japan to create problems on the counter.
"The Japanese fell back and just defending. But it gave them the opportunity to counter, and they did it quite well a few times," the coach opined.
"We had clear plans how to handle that, but to be honest we didn't do it well enough. It prompted us to change the tactics at half time.
"The fourth quarter saw really good hockey. I think we created many opportunities and space in the last quarter. We also waited for the moment when we could score the goals and things clicked for us," Oltmans added.
Updated Date: May 03, 2017 18:43 PM