Keep emotions in check, coach Graham Reid tells his team ahead of the semi-final against Belgium
New Delhi, August 2, 2021
On the eve of the crucial semi-final encounter against Belgium in the Tokyo Olympics, Indian men's hockey team coach Graham Reid read out the riot act to his players to keep their emotions in check.
Though Reid said that he was happy with the 3-1 victory against Great Britain in the quarters, he pointed out that the two green cards and one yellow card in the game is something they ought to avoid against a world class team like Belgium.
He said, "I am very proud of the players. We fought hard and sometimes that is what you have to do in final situations of a crunch game like the quarter-fnal. You have to fight, bite and scratch. We were very lucky yesterday because they (Great Britain) created more opportunities than us but our penalty corner defence and Sreejesh especially were magnificent last night. They saved us."
"But looking forward, the things we can learn from last night is that there is a difference between passion and emotion. Sometimes, we let our emotions take over. We need to keep 11 players on the pitch.
"The problem is that we played a lot of our game against Great Britain with 10 men on the pitch. We can't do that against Belgium and think that we can be victorious. That will be the big message to the team today when we have a meeting," Reid said.
He was of the view that there is still some work to be done in ensuring a sustained attack.
"It was great to score field goals against Great Britain. We didn't get any corners, so of course we also need to be working on a sustained attacking pressure which I always talk about with the players. As I said, against a team like Belgium, it will be very important to keep all 11 players on the pitch the entire duration," he said.
Skipper Manpreet Singh also was cautious. "As far as Belgium is concerned, obviously they and Australia have been sharing the World No. 1 spot for the last 18-24 months.
"So, in that sense, Belgium will be a very difficult opponent. But we have played them a fair bit in the past and have the experience of doing well against them, too. So, we need to focus on the things that we can do against them and make sure that we are much more disciplined in defence and our structure is much better," he said.
Looking back at the week that was in Tokyo, Manpreet highlighted the squad's spirit to fight back. He said, "If you look back into the week, and what this group has been through, I think we showed a lot of determination and the willingness to fight, particularly in the quarter- final game last night. That’s a real plus. We are going to need that same fighting spirit against Belgium tomorrow."