After a tournament filled with late-game blunders, India – led by Sardar Singh – turned it up in their 9/10 match against Korea, winning 3-0 to finish No. 9 in the Rabobank Field Hockey World Cup.
“Our tournament started really good, we had lots of youngsters playing and they have had to learn quickly,” Singh said. “They are improving really quickly. Beating Korea was good, we need to do that again in the Asia Cup to qualify for Olympics.”
“If we play like we did today we will continue to improve. We worked on improving our defending, particularly after conceding in the last minutes against Belgium and England, and after those games we didn’t concede like that again.”
India’s game-to-game improvement not only caught the eye of the team’s captain, but also their coach. Rising to the top of the field hockey circuit is much more of a marathon than a sprint. Tangible improvements, like the one Singh pointed out, indicate the team is moving in the right direction.
“The main difference is that the Europeans approach is to focus on the process not the result,” said Terry Walsh, coach of India’s team. “If you look at Belgium, they have been working hard for 10 years and they still don’t make the top four. All teams are working really hard, and we have to understand that it is a long process.”
Led by Akashdeep Singh, who scored both in the sixth and fiftieth minutes of the match, India’s strong attack yielded a 3-0 victory over Korea. India ranks No. 8 in the FIH world rankings; Korea, who finished No. 10 in the World Cup, is ranked No. 7.