London, Jul 31: Indian hockey coach Michale Nobbs said on Monday that the team did not play a natural game against the mighty Dutch, particularly in the first half, in its opening match at the Olympics. The Indians lost 2-3 despite showing a spirited show in the second half of the match after trailing 0-2.
All but two of the Indian outfit played in an Olympic match for the first time at the Riverbank Arena on Monday. They were clearly tentative and allowed the Dutch, ranked third in the world, a complete domination in the earlier half. Nobbs said at a post-match conference that the Indians were perhaps overawed by the Dutch and failed to produce their national game.
He added that the team had its chances in the second half. Dharamvir Singh and Shivendra Singh levelled the scores after the Dutch went up by two goals at the end of the first half. The men in orange scored the decisive goal through a penalty-corner at the 51st minute to take all three points. The Indian skipper, Bharat Chetri, however, said that they had a decent game against the Dutch. He said returning to the Olympics after eight years, India were hopeful of matching the Dutch in the opening game. India should have forced more penalty corners, he added.
The Dutch coach, Paul van Ass said he was surprised to see India coming back from 0-2. Ass praised the Indian style of hockey and said he never really expected the Asian team to bounce back. "I am happy that we could fix the situation with another goal," the Dutch coach said, while stressing that the Dutch strikers missed several chances. Dutch skipper Floris Evers wasn't happy with the fact that India made a comeback into the game. The performance could have been better, he said.
(With PTI inputs)