Ciriello: There are a dozen defensive variations in PCs
"Defending a penalty corner is tougher than scoring
It is no secret that penalty corner conversion rates have fallen. There was a time when forwards would congratulate each other on winning PCs. Now, they aren't even wishing each other after most PCs given their failure to convert. The average PC conversion rate of 25-30 per cent has fallen to less than 24 per cent (40 goals out of 167 PCs in the World Cup league phase) here. And drag flickers alone cannot be blamed for this, says India's analytical coach Chris Ciriello.
"Defending a penalty corner is tougher than scoring. People expect you to score 100 per cent off PCs but if you score 100 per cent, you should concede 100 per cent too. But it doesn't work that way," Ciriello, 33, a fine drag flicker himself, told mid-day at the Kalinga Stadium.
The 2014 World Cup-winning Australian could not elaborate on PC defences for obvious reasons, but provided a fair insight into them nevertheless. "There are a dozen different defensive variations for PCs. Rushers are a lot bolder now with adequate protection — ice hockey gloves, abdomen guard, knee pads and thickened shin pads. Depending on who is taking the PC, we have one or two rushers, running out to cover one side, so that the goalkeeper can take the other. Sometimes, rushers run half way. Sometimes there may be no rushers, depending on who we are facing," explained Ciriello.
There's a lot of analysis that goes into this, but while top teams like Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have flown down 11 support staff members, India have just six.
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