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Chris Crielo on Indian preparation (12/1/2018)
--s2h Team
Australian Chris Crielo did wonders with the ball in penalty corner situations four years ago in The Hague World Cup. The Anglo-Indian is nowadays part and parcel of Indian team being its manager here in Bhubneswar, and assisting chief coach Harendera Singh in every aspect of the game since almost six months from now. Look below for his views on India's South Africa match that India won handsomely- the only game that went one-sided so far in three days of action packed Odisha Hockey World Cup. undefined

On Penalty Corners: We have got a lot of good variations. We can hit the ball hard as well. We got three good flickers. They can score goals. It’s a matter of who fits well against what team. We are working with the strikers; trying to get field goals as well as penalty corners. It’s important for us to focus on the push and the trap. Everyone talks about drag-flick. If you don’t have a quick pusher, it won’t help the drag-flickers.

There’s a lot of discussion and concern about India finishing the PCs. That shortfall is found across every team. Some teams are defensive side and they are getting better. The chargers now are running with ice-hockey gloves, wear knee pads and shin guards are thicker. The quicker you are though, you get closer to the top of the circle, then you don’t get hit.

PC variations while defending: You got ‘short-box’, which means you only run half way. There’s a lot of analyses that goes into what players do. India, as well as anywhere else, people always want us to score all PCs, 100%. The problem is if all teams are to score 100% corners, then we need to let 100% corners in. It doesn’t work. Everything has got to be realistic. There could be two rushers, one or no rushers at all, depending on who we have. There are over ten different defensive variations.

First game against SA: First game was okay, bit scrappy. But we scored five goals. There’s not many other teams that have done that at the moment. It’s been a very tight World Cup so far across all pools. We were a bit lazy in the back. But then, like I said: five goals. If you talk to any team in the last three days, they’d take five goals.

Does it bother you that India managed to convert only two of the five PCs against SA, that too off rebound?: No. For me, all I want to see is scoreboard. Whether we have 20 penalty corners and score zero and we win 1-0, I am still happy. It’s not about one guy taking the PC -- as everyone in India thinks. It’s about the guy who earns the PC. It’s about the guy who earned it. The guy who ran back and made the tackle, passed to the other guy, he passes it to the next and then we make the PC. It’s a team game all around. Therefore, to focus on one player is not good. It’s like in soccer and you can take a free-kick, you’re a specialist. It helps you gets selected. But someone’s has got to make that play for you to execute that skill. I’ve told our players, you put the way you need to put it, hard with good quality. And, if the goal-keeper makes the save or the runner saves it, you’ve done what you gotta do. Same with defence: if they make a perfect flick and it goes right into the top corner -- you just have to appreciate the opponent.

Against SA only Harmanpreet was used in the PCs: No, well, Harman’s definitely is No.1 at the moment. He’s also played at the Olympics. He is used to the kind of pressure that exist in Odisha. He ahs played Junior World Cup. Both Amit Rohidas and Varun are sometimes in sometimes out of the team. Both have picked up a lot and are offering a lot to the team.

Will you continue to use just Harmanpreet: No, we will be mixing it up. We take decision based on one specific thing. We got three good guys. We got more than ten variations. It’s just a matter of getting enough PCs to be able to execute.

Akashdeep’s new role: Yeah, he’s got pretty good skills and good vision when he doesn’t muck around with the ball -- meaning, over-dribble. He understands. He’s been around for a lot of games. It’s a good point for him to grow and bring other younger guys into the game. He’s got the skill and vision, he’s just gotta be in the game more.

Chances against Belgium: Belgium are very good. They are an experienced team. I think over a 150 caps average per player. But we got guys who got a lot of leg-speed as well.

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