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Asian Champions Trophy 2016: Speed in Attack the Key to Break Korea's Defence, Says Oltmans

Arnab Sen | News18.com @arnabsentweet

First published: October 28, 2016, 5:23 PM IST | Updated: October 28, 2016
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Asian Champions Trophy 2016: Speed in Attack the Key to Break Korea's Defence, Says Oltmans
File photo of Indian hockey coach Roelant Oltmans with the team. (Getty Images)

New Delhi: A stunning show in the round robin phase saw the Indian team qualify for the last four of the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia in the top spot.

But it all comes down to holding your nerves for 60 minutes as the team takes on South Korea in the second semi-final.

South Korea is the only team India failed to beat during the group phase. But despite that draw earlier, Indian coach Roelant Oltmans struck a confident note about his team's chances of making it through to the finals during an exclusive interview with News18.

"Ofcourse we are very confident after finishing at the top of the table with 4 wins and a draw. The draw came against Korea whom we play in the semi-final, but I am sure we will be able to raise our level compared to their game and not take them lightly at all," Oltmans said during a telephonic conversation.

Talking about his team's game plan for the semi-final, the 62-year old hockey coach stressed on the need to make quick entries into the Korean box in order to catch their defenders off guard.

"I never talk a lot about tactics but the crux will be that we will look to create spaces in their defence. For that we need to be quick with our attacks. I think speed while attacking is the most important thing for us so that the Korean defence can’t get into position in time," the Indian coach said.

Oltmans said he was happy with the way the team has been converting the penalty-corners, with Indian drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh leading the goal scoring charts with 10 goals so far. The Indian coach spoke about the need to create opportunities from open play against the formidable Korean defence.

"There’s no doubt that the penalty-corner conversion in this tournament has been really good apart from one game and that was the one against South Korea. It will be a big challenge for us to convert penalty-corners during the semi-final and we have practiced a lot to take some special corners in the match. Let’s see if we can beat the Korean defence because they are one of the best defensive units in the game. We have seen that in the other matches also, and they are known to play defensively in important matches, so it is up to us to not only score from penalty-corners but also create chances and score from open play," Oltmans said.

On being asked how the team coped with the quarter-final loss at the Rio Olympics, Oltmans said that the team needs to deal with pressure situations better.

" I am working in this environment for more than 30 years so I know that someday you win and someday you lose and we all want to win. But losing in a crucial game is disappointing. You have to cope with such situations and take your lessons from it. The most disappointing game of the Olympic campaign for me was against Canada where we let go of a chance to set up a quarter-final with Spain. Belgium is a tough opponent and we saw that during the quarter-final match."

Oltmans, who had coached the Netherlands men's hockey team to the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said that this team is still a few years away from reaching the zenith of international hockey.

"I have always maintained that it takes 6 to 8 years to start performing consistently at the top level and we are far away from that at the moment. You can see Belgium and Argentina, who were the finalists in the Olympics, have been working with the same group for years now and finally they have got their success. We have made progress, from being 13th in the world to become 6th in the world and we have won medals in the major tournaments in the last couple of years. We are looking to get better and will work hard in the upcoming years to win medals in the major tournaments," Oltamans said.

India will take on South Korea in the second semi-final of the Asian Champions Trophy 20:30 IST on Saturday.

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