Coach Sjoerd Marijne heaps praise on goalkeepers Akash Chikte, Suraj Karkera after Hockey Asia Cup exploits
What's the Story
Indian hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne had only just joined the team a month before the Asia Cup. But he still managed to steer the Men in Blue to a 3rd Asia Cup tournament win. He couldn't have asked for a better debut. With India winning the tournament without losing a game, the 43-year-old believes the team's success has helped him understand the players better and vice-versa.
In Case You Didn't Know
Marijne was the Indian women's national team coach before replacing fellow Dutchman Roelant Oltmans at the helm of the men's side. Oltmans was sacked as the head coach of the Indian hockey team earlier this year. The decision to end Oltman’s contract came at the back of a three-day Hockey India conclave that took some hard decisions following the national team’s poor showing in the last two years.
The Heart of the Matter
Marijne heaped a lot of praise on Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera, who have been manning the goal in place of seasoned campaigner PR Sreejesh who is recovering from a knee injury.
"I don't generally talk about individual players, but both the goalkeepers did very well in this tournament, especially under pressure. I really enjoyed their performance," said Marijne to the Times of India.
Marijne said that India could not afford to rest on their laurels as they needed to work on their consistency. He said that India attacked beautifully, but lacked proper execution. He stressed on need to attack more. He cited the example of the final where they attacked well in the first half, but didn't do enough in the second. After a two-week break, the team will regroup at the SAI, South Centre in Bengaluru to prepare for the Hockey World League Final to be held in Bhubaneswar from December 1-10.
We have to agree with Marijne on the subject of the goalkeepers. Chikte and Karkera have been highly impressive in the Asia Cup. India have also conceded the least number of goals in the entire tournament and India have Karkera and Chikte to thank.