Day 4, Men#14 India vs Spain: India learnt its lesson from its first match against Australia. They started very aggressively by pressing the Spanish team knowing that if they can get some opportunities in the beginning for fast turnover breaks, they can have a good lead in the first quarter. Ultimately, they were successful in that. They got opportunities for turnover fast breaks which they converted into goals and even doubled their lead. The way India was playing half-court today was defensive yet again, but also organized and managed. It seems like they have learnt from their mistakes. Communication was on point among three lanes, and marking inside the circle was pro-active as opposed to passive as before.
On the other side, Spanish team made some opportunities but were very hasty in 25 or when they entered the circle. Because the Indian defence was so pro-active, even the opportunities they got to goal were not very good ones. Close marking and shadow marking was the name of the play.
Ultimately, India was the better side, they had better control throughout the game. The Spanish team played well, but only for brief moments. They couldn’t avail the penalty corners and in matches of this type when you lose good opportunities like this you don’t get a chance to get back into the match. Overall, India put up a better display, maintained the possession and control. Today their highlight was defensive halfcourt pressure management on ball carrier. Inside the circle marking was pro-active, which was great defensively. On Attack they used their strength, counter-attacks to the fullest. Their finishing was also on-point.
Day 4, Men#13 Argentina vs Australia: It was a match in which it was expected Argentina would put up a good resistance. However, even though in the beginning Argentina was able to secure an early lead, but in spite of that it seemed in possession and non-possession Australia had more control. Fitness wise comparing both teams, Australia’s players were fitter. When Australia ramps up the pace of the game, it is a challenge for any team to cope with it. This was the third match in which Australia exploited the centre channel or inside channel. Ever since zonal defensive system has come into place, the teams who properly use the inside channels produce better plays, and Australia is the prime example of this. Australia’s greatest strength is the understanding between its players to develop link play which means their acceleration in possession play is excellent. Inside circle finishing is also on point.
Argentina tried their best, but could not match the Australian pace. If we compare average age categories of the two teams, Argentina’s players are older. They were very predictable to the Australian coaches and players. In Australia’s defence, delaying tactics being used effectively in turnovers led to their victory. Overall, Australia throughout the game proved that they were the much better side in the arena.
About Tahir Zaman:
Tahir Zaman is an esteemed hockey coach. He represented Pakistan Hockey in Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. He was a part of the winning squad of 1994 Men’s Hockey World Cup. He is FIH Academy Trainer and FIH Senior Coach. He is currently serving as the head of Education and as the Executive Board Member of the Asian Hockey Federation