'We were not able to keep hold of the ball' - India coach Wim Koevermans

The Dutch coach rued the chances that his side did not take in the game against Myanmar and was critical of his team's inability to hold on to the ball....
When Wim Koevermans took over the job from Savio Madeira as coach of the national side, it seemed that India too would be implementing the possession style of football that has become a rage amongst teams in the world. Coming from the land that gave us 'Total Football', Koevermans was expected to help the team graduate from long-ball tactics to one that involved keeping the ball on the ground.

However the loss to Myanmar on Wednesday was a testament to the fact that there is a long way to go before India can truly be associated with playing possession football. Koevermans minced no words when he criticised his team for not holding onto the ball.

"Our intention was not to defend and go for 3 points. We had a very good start. In the first half we had three good chances. If we get three clear chances against a team like Myanmar, we should score atleast one. If we had then it would have been difficult for them to get back in the game. A goal for us would have meant that we could have had a chance for a second goal, but that didn’t happen. We didn’t have the ball that much towards the end of the first half. It allows the opposition to build their strength in attack, though we didn’t concede that many chances," said Koevermans in the post-match briefing.

The Dutch coach said that the team had looked to improve on their ball retention in the second half but their failure to do so coupled with a very deep defensive line saw Myanmar scoring the winning goal.

"They didn’t get that many chances, but in the end they scored the important goal. We have only ourselves to blame as we didn’t keep hold of the ball. We only got one very big chance in the second half when we tested the goalkeeper from a long throw, so even that made a big difference to us. We threw all our strikers up front later but we were unable to get the ball to the right person," repented the Dutchman.

The Blue Tigers needed a draw to have stood a good chance to qualify for the 2014 tournament in Maldives after Chinese Taipei had drawn with the White Angels on Matchday 2 of the qualifiers.

"Chinese Taipei helped us with the draw against Myanmar, but we have to finish the job ourselves which didn’t happen. Myanmar are a strong team with good players. We knew this from the start itself but we also knew that they could be beaten. But we didn’t, so compliments and congratulations to them to have qualified for the tournament. Now our only chance for us is that we go to the Maldives as second best," said Koevermans.

India's chances now rest on the performance of two other groups, with Bangladesh already ahead of the Blue Tigers in contention for the best second best placed team, that will go through the qualifying phase later this month.

"Two other groups play in sometime and our fate will be decided on that. So we have to wait for that. Hopefully we end up second best amongst the groups that now play as the other groups are quite tough. It's not in our hands," conceded the Indian national team coach.

Wim admitted that some players that took to the pitch against Myanmar were not in the best of form and did not get the service they expected. However he refused to point out names instead preferring to criticise the team as a whole.

"We couldn't keep the ball. Some players rely on the passes they get. We can't criticise any particular player. I look at team performance," said the India gaffer

Koevermans felt that the passionate atmosphere generated by the Myanmar fans in the stadium had no effect whatsoever on the Indian's performance on the pitch.

"Fans are great. This is the atmosphere which every team wants to play in. I don't like to play in a stadium without fans," signed off the coach.

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