Antwerp (Belgium): Indians have a history of letting in goals in closing stages and starting poorly in big tournaments. So, it was obvious that coach Paul Van Ass, who is still new to Indian emotions and efforts under stressful match situations, and skipper Sardar Singh were a relieved pair at the end of a hard-fought 3-2 win over France in the first match of the 2015 Fintro Hockey World League on Saturday.
India striker Ramandeep Singh scored the winner vs France
Taking out positives from the current result rather than dwelling immediately on the tasks that need to be accomplished over a period of time, Van Ass said: "First games are always difficult in any tournament and there are no easy games in big events. Especially here, where all teams are playing for a spot in the Olympics, so no team is giving an inch."
Sardar himself was pleased with the performance and said, "As the coach said, the first games are always difficult and all other teams have a big goal to qualify for Olympics, so they are going to fight hard. So, a win like this in close game is also good for youngsters, who will learn from it."
Van Ass added, "The good part is that in the end, we managed a third goal and won the match. Sardar (pointing to the Indian skipper seated next to him) forced his way and moved up and provided the kind of energy we need."
'Credit to Ramandeep'
Then he had some special words for Ramandeep Singh, who was not in the starting line-up. "We were 2-2 and with just a few minutes to go. Ramandeep was on the bench and I wanted a third goal, so I asked who would go and get us the goal. Ramandeep put himself up and said he would score. We need that kind of emotion and we got it today." Ramandeep's goal gave India a winning start in the tourney.