Ipoh, Malaysia:India's chief coach Joaquim Carvalho on Saturday rued missed chances which cost his young team its opening match against Australia in the 16th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.
"Overall, I was satisfied with the team's performance. In fact, I was quite surprised that the young team played so well. It was just that we missed chances after dominating the Aussies. I would say, it was touch-and-go in the end," he said after the 1-0 defeat.
Carvalho, elaborating on India's strategy, said the players successfully executed their plan for long but were unfortunately beaten late in the match.
"Our intention was to hold the ball and draw the Aussies out before counter-attacking using the aerial ball. It was basically to tire them out while we also focussed on distributing stamina by passing bouts.
"To a great extent, we succeeded in this and it was unfortunate that a lucky deflection made all the difference in the end," he said.
Looking at the positives, Carvalho, who is on his first assignment with the team, believed that the strong performance against the Aussies would be a huge boost to his team's confidence.
"Our main concern was today's game and honestly, I was quite happy with the way our young players, quite a few of them playing at this level for the first time, performed," Carvalho added.
On his decision to include midfielder Vikram Kanth, who flew in barely 24 hours back as a replacement to Ignace Tirkey, the coach said: "In a way, it (Ignace opting out) was a blessing as Vikram is a solid and versatile midfield player who is also capable of manning any position. I thought he played pretty well today."
Australia's assistant coach Colin Batch felt the oppressive weather conditions was a key factor in his side's insipid first-half performance as compared to their showing in the second session when the forced four penalty corners.
"But then, at this level, every player has to adjust to the conditions. Overall, I wouldn't say I was very pleased with our showing, but given the fact that we were trying out so many young players, I am happy to come away with three points," he said.
He concurred with Carvalho's observation that the newly-laid pitch did affect the performance of both teams.
"The bounce was unusually high and may be, the pitch did not retain as much water as it should have. However, it was not a major problem and hopefully, we will improve as the tournament progresses," Batch said.