India chief coach Harendra Singh lauded his players for overcoming the disappointment of semi-final defeat and showing character by beating Pakistan to claim the bronze medal at the Asian Games, Saturday.
India prevailed 2-1 over a fighting Pakistan in the bronze medal play-off with Akashdeep and Harmanpret Singh finding the net for the winners.
“This is not the medal we wanted but we are not returning empty-handed at-least. The boys deserve applause for regrouping and showing character after the semifinal setback,” Harendra told reporters.
India were gold medal favourites but lost their semifinal to Malaysia in sudden death. Pakistan captain Muhammed Rizwan Sr. said India were “lucky” to win since they had upper hand in the fourth quarter.
“We tried to comeback but could not. We had chances we did not capitalise. Earlier, India would beat us 4-0 5-0 but we gave then tough time out there today. At the champions trophy they played exceptionally well but here we matched them. They were lucky to win. We had upper hand in fourth quarter,” said the Pakistan skipper.
Responding to that, Harendra said, “Nobody will watch the videos to see who was tough who was not. The history will tell that India won a bronze.” Rizwan said not being able to convert three penalty corners, pegged them back in the match.
“If we will not convert PCs, how are we expected to win? It’s still a work in progress. (Coach) Oltmans has got little time to work on that. We missed Sohail (Abbas) bhai in this match.”
Asked about India’s strategy to play aerial balls consistently, Harendra said: “You have to have something to surprise your opponent. You strategise according to the weaknesses of the oppoennts.”