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Hockey World Cup: Would have been different if we had done better in 3rd-4th quarters against New Zealand, says Harmanpreet

Rourkela, Jan 28 (IANS) India men’s hockey team captain Harmanpreet Singh on Saturday expressed satisfaction over his team’s overall performance in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 and said with better performance in the third and fourth quarters in the Crossover match against New Zealand could have resulted in the hosts finishing higher than the joint-ninth they eventually ended in.

India lost to New Zealand 5-3 in a sudden death shoot-out in the Crossover stage match after holding the hosts 3-3 in regulation time. India missed a bagful of chances including a 2-1 and 3-1 lead to concede two goals in the fourth quarter.

Harmanpreet Singh’s team also failed to capitalise on 12 shots at the goal, 18 circle entries and 11 penalty corners and failed to reach the quarterfinals.

“If we had made fewer mistakes in the third and fourth quarter in the Crossover match against New Zealand and capitalised on our chances, the final outcome would have been different,” said the ace drag-flicker in the post-match press conference on Saturday.

However, Harmanpreet said the event was not a disaster for his team as it finished undefeated in regulation time and ended the tournament with 8-0 win over Japan and a 5-2 victory against South Africa, ending the event in 9th place along with Rio Olympics gold medallist Argentina.

“We did not lose a single match in the tournament — barring the Crossover match with New Zealand which we lost in the shoot-out. We played well overall,” he said.

The skipper said the defense was considered the weak point of his team but his players did well in that aspect of the game throughout the World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

Harmanpreet said that the players fighting as a team was a big positive for him from the World Cup.

“We played like a team, fought in every match like a team. Of course, it was disappointing that would not do better in the third and fourth quarters against New Zealand,” he said.

Asked about the future, he said they will learn from their mistakes and will try to do better in the upcoming matches in the Pro League and the Asian Games later this year.

–IANS

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