Ipoh (Malaysia), April 12: For Paul van Ass, the third-place finish in his maiden assignment as India's new hockey chief coach was undoubtedly a creditable performance and the Dutchman today said that he has managed to achieve his target in the tournament by learning "six beautiful lessons".(India win bronze in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup)
From the very beginning, Van Ass said that the 24th Azlan Shah Cup was a platform to gather knowledge about the team and the past one week has been a great leaning curve for the boys.
"My target was very simple, to learn lessons everyday and in this tournament we had six beautiful lessons," he said after India defeated Korea in the shoot-out to secure the third place in the prestigious six-nation tournament at the Azlan Shah Stadium here.
"From day one I said 'let us learn lessons and whatever happens let them happen'. It is a high performance sport. You also saw me changing a few players' positions during this tournament. So we have learned a lot and we can take it from here," he added.
Elaborating on the specifics, the Dutchman said, "We have to be careful that we do not go out of the tournament early and play for nothing that is one lesson we have learnt. And the second lesson was to get the defence right under pressure and we succeeded partly in that."
India produced a spirited performance to beat Korea 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out in the third-fourth place play-off match after both the teams were locked 2-2 at regulation time.
India scored both their goals though field strikes from last match hat-trick man Nikkin Thimmaiah (10th minute) and Satbir Singh (22nd), while Korea scored from penalty corners converted by You Hyosik (20th) and Nam Hyunwoo (29th).
In the shoot-out the Indians were clinical as Akashdeep Singh, skipper Sardar Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra converted their tries with consummate ease as against Korea's one.
'The shoot-out was very good'
Van Ass was full of praise for the way his players executed their attempts in the shoot-out but felt the match was not upto the mark.
"The shoot-out was very good. That was of high quality but I feel the match was not of very high quality. We were a little bit slippery to start with.
From the moment Korea scored the second goal we started to slip a bit. That was an unnecessary corner and that should not have happened," he said.
"But fortunately we hung in and I am glad that we could win in the shoot-out. I was very surprised with the quality of our shoot-out I must say," said the Dutchman.
Van Ass said barring a few blemishes, he was satisfied with the way his wards played in the tournament.
"I think apart from the Malaysia game and partly tonight, especially after Korea's second goal, I am happy with the performance," the India coach said.
India today failed to secure a single penalty corner in the entire 60 minutes but Van Ass said he was happy as long as his strikers are getting goals.
"Now-a-days it is difficult to score from penalty corners. The penalty corner defence has become much stronger now. Now-a-days you cannot always rely 100 per cent on penalty corners. Of course, it is always a danger. You do not need one if you score field goals," he signed off.