The Dutch coach acknowledged that the defending champions didn’t have the best outing against The Green Shirts…
India held on for a 1-0 win against Pakistan, a game in which their arch rivals dominated for large portions of the game. Coach Wim Koevermans accepted that his side didn’t put in their best performance but mentioned that he was satisfied with the three points earned.
“Yes, I am not happy with the performance. We were lucky to get that goal and then pressure was from their side. But after that we kept giving away possession and then they were able to play. Their jersey number 21 (Mohammad. Adil) was very quick, and from that side they created the opportunities. I must say Subrata (Paul) was in outstanding form, but our performance wasn’t good.
“We couldn’t keep the ball, so we changed a few things in the second half and that worked very well for us. But I think we defended well even though Pakistan had many attacks. I think Syed Nabi and Jewel Raja made a difference. After that we could have scored 3-to-4 goals. In a tournament, results are always the more important things,” he further added.
When quizzed why his players were not up to the mark for the entire game, the Dutchman stated, “Probably the fact that it was the first game in the tournament made them anxious, but I was confident we would get the result. I think we did everything right in defense, we put our bodies on the line, and final part of second half you could see we can play good football.”
The Indian midfielders were guilty of giving away the ball too cheaply on a number of occasions which resulted in Sunil Chhetri cutting a frustrated figure upfront.
“If we keep losing the ball in midfield, then ball will never reach Sunil and then he becomes disappointed, and forgets to press. But he knows his role and we try and press from top. I told him to stay as high as possible and it’s about patience. Sometimes Sunil drops into midfield and there is no one in the box,” Koevermans observed.
Alwyn George was substituted at the start of the second half with Jewel Raja coming in and after the hour mark, Nallapan Mohanraj was taken off for Syed Nabi.
Elaborating on the substitutions he made, Koevermans mentioned, “Jewel first made the difference in pressing and then Mohanraj was finding it difficult. So we took him off and Nabi did a good job. And then the other one (difference in performance) was that they (Pakistan) played two strikers and allowed us to dominate the midfield.”
The Indian team coach conceded he was slightly surprised by Pakistan’s performance, but felt his team allowed them too much space. He explained, “I have seen quite a few videos of them and in those games they didn’t play too well. But today they had good players who could play and that’s what I didn’t like about our team - that we allowed them to play. The more we kept the ball; it became more difficult to them.”
Looking forward to the game against Bangladesh, Koevermans said, “I said it in the press conference that we are the holders of the cup and so we have to defend it. And we have to play 5 finals, this was first one, and Pakistan were tough. Bangladesh are also tough, they see this and may feel they have a chance.”
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