Santander, Spain: India conceded four late goals before registering a 6-5 win against South Africa on Sunday, and while it may ring alarm bells for an Indian hockey fan, coach Michael Nobbs offered an interesting perspective.
The India coach is trying to tie all the loose ends before the team lands in London for the Olympic Games, and in that close encounter against South Africa, he seems to have noted a key point in his book - Sardar Singh and Ignace Tirkey must play the last 10 minutes of each half.
"I felt [we] were not in a position to lose it, but it did show where we needed to place our substitutions," Nobbs said after India played their third match in four days on Sunday. "We played two [players] of the train on to give a couple of the senior boys a rest in this game. That in hindsight was a mistake and won't happen again," the coach explained.
\"We need Ignace to play the last ten minutes of each half, as well as Sardar,\" said the India hockey coach.
"We also found out we need, for example, Ignace to play the last ten minutes of each half as well as Sardar, as they are the stabilising influence; and had they both been on the field at that time [against South Africa], the last two goals wouldn't have occurred either," Nobbs said, indicating that the two players are the key to defending during the dying stages of a match.
Nobbs also said the team was "getting more consistent" in attack, which reflects in the five field goals India scored against the South Africans.
"We have also been working hard on our circle attacking work and that paid off yesterday [Sunday], where we scored five field goals and looked much better. "We will be still working harder on that as we still had over 30 circle penetrations again, so we are getting more consistent with our attack. So all in all an interesting game and some really good insights that will help us at the Olympics, we hope," he concluded.
India play their second Test against South Africa on Wednesday.