At half-time, coach Harendra told players, 'create legacy'
Jakarta, Aug 22 (PTI) When India led 14-0 at half-time against minnows Hong Kong China, chief coach Harendra Singh gave just one instruction to his players -- "be ruthless and create your legacy."
The Indian players did respond to the message by trouncing Hong Kong China 26-0 and erased an 86-year-old record.
Defending champions India bettered its record set way back in 1932 when the national team, which had legendary Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh and Gurmeet Singh, thrashed USA 24-1 in the Olympics at Los Angeles.
The record for the biggest win remains with New Zealand, who beat Samoa 36-1 in 1994.
"We knew it's possible, it was realistic, so I told the boys, go and create your own legacy and your names will be etched in history," Harendra said after the win.
But asked if a record-win against a weak opposition is satisfying for the coach and the players, Harendra replied: "I believe in a thought process that if you have to kill, you have to kill mercilessly.
"For me, it (record) does not matter, but for the players, it is a proud moment. Team is bigger than the coach. When history will be discussed, the names of these 18 players will be there. The record is always for the players," he said.
The coach also felt that there was nothing wrong in having weaker sides in the competition.
"I look it from different angle. For the first time, we have 12 teams competing in the Asian Games. You can't have quality all the time. Sometimes you need to have quantity to produce quality," Harendra said.
Asked if he still feels his players can improve upon their game going forward in the tournament, the coach said, "Yes, the players still need to be careful that they not only reach the centre and penetrate the circle but also execute the whole plan. It will be good if unforced errors are cut down."
Midfielder Manpreet Singh also felt that there is nothing wrong in letting weaker teams compete at such big events.
"Japan at one time was a very low-ranked team and see where they are now. So these teams will also improve. They will also grow," he said.
He said the Indian team is happy to be a part of history but their focus remains on the future course of the tournament.
"It's good to create history by scoring that many goals but our focus is to be ready for the next matches. We wanted to improve on variation, rhythm and ball speed control ahead of tough games against Japan and Korea," Manpreet said.