Azlan Shah Cup: India Captain Sardar Singh Praises Young Players For Gritty Display
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Ipoh (Malaysia): India's campaign in the 25th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament finished with a 0-4 loss to Australia in the final, but captain Sardar Singh gave credit to the young players in the team for putting up a gritty display against the world's top side on Saturday.
"We put up a gritty display in the final, but there were some errors in our circle and that caused the 4-0 scoreline," Sardar said after the medal ceremony.
"Australia are among the toughest opponents one can take on in contemporary hockey, but we have had a successful tournament," said Sardar.
"We came here with a team comprising several young players with an eye on the future," said the Indian captain, reflecting on this outing.
"That purpose has been accomplished. These youngsters have gained tremendous experience against some top international teams," he said.
Coach Roelant Oltmans had decided to include junior players from the core group in this squad with his focus on picking the squad for the Olympic Games.
Despite putting up a gritty performance, India were outplayed in the second half when the reigning world champions scored three goals by catching the Indian defence on the wrong foot.
"We need to sort out the minor mistakes that lead to goals being conceded," said the Indian skipper.
Thomas Craig and Matt Ghodes scored two goals each in open field play as Australia overwhelmed India after a stout defence denied them a good crack at the goal in the first quarter.
Australia got into the goal-scoring act through Craig's field goals in the 25th and 35th minutes. The Indians seemed to be tiring when Ghodes got his goals in the 43rd and 57th minutes.
The triumph clinched Australia their ninth title in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. For India, this was the second time they finished with the silver medal in seven final appearances.
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