New Delhi, April 14:
Chief coach Paul van Ass said that he was surprised with the way the Indian hockey team came back to win the bronze medal at the recently concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
India did not start well at the invitation tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, following their 2-2 draw against South Korea and two consecutive losses to New Zealand (1-2) and hosts Malaysia (2-3).
However, they made an incredible turnaround to beat Canada (5-3) and reigning World Champions Australia 4-2 to qualify for the bronze medal match where they beat South Korea in the penalty shootout on Sunday to grab the metal.
“We started with not so good results but our boys recovered in a very well manner. Beating World No.1 Australia boosted the confidence of our boys and we got positive results from our new strategies and team combinations,” said van Ass.
“As I was coaching the Indian team for the first time in a tournament, they have surprised me with their high-level performance against Australia. It is good to see India in the semifinal of the tournament and I expect better performance in upcoming competitions.”
Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra also congratulated the team for winning the metal.
“I am proud of this team. The way they played and bounced back into the tournament to clinch the bronze is amazing. The highlight was the win against Australia and this motivated them for the match against Korea. I congratulate the entire team for the bronze,” Batra said. (IANS)