Hockey World Cup | We are working to improve penalty corners, says India’s analytical coach Chris Cirrielo

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Hockey World Cup | We are working to improve penalty corners, says India’s analytical coach Chris Cirrielo

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SportsCafe Desk

12/01/2018

India’s analytical coach Chris Cirrielo has backed the men in blue to improve their penalty corner conversion rate in the ongoing 2018 FIH World Cup being played in Odisha. Cirrielo added that Harmanpreet Singh will remain India’s first choice for PC’s along with Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas.

India got off to a promising start in the 2018 edition of the FIH Hockey World Cup which is being played in Bhubaneswar. Harendra Singh’s boys brushed aside South Africa by a scoreline of 5-0 to ease the pressure on home soil and set the tone for a crucial tie against Belgium which will determine who tops Group C.

While India impressed in the opener, a few critics questioned the home team’s penalty corner conversion rate after they had to rely on rebounds to score against the South Africans. However, analytical coach Christopher Ciriello revealed that the hosts are working on their penalty corners ahead of the match against Belgium and are happy with the team’s progress so far.

"We have got a lot of good variations. We can hit the ball hard as well. We got three good flickers. They can score goals. It’s a matter of who fits well against what team. We are working with the strikers, trying to get field goals as well as penalty corners. It’s important for us to focus on the push and the trap. Everyone talks about drag-flick. If you don’t have a quick pusher, it won’t help the drag-flickers.

"There’s a lot of conception about [struggling to] finish the PCs. That’s across every team. But with the defensive side, the guys are getting better. They are running with gloves, guys wear knee pads. The shin pads have gotten thicker. The quicker you are though, you get closer to the top of the circle, and you don’t get hit," Ciriello told Scroll.in.

Ciriello, who was a Former Australian drag-flicker, added that he would not mind if the team missed 20 PCs but won the game 1-0. He also singled out Harmanpreet Singh as India’s first choice drag-flicker followed by Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar.

"For me, all I wanna see at the end of the game, if we have 20 penalty corners and score zero and we win 1-0, I am still happy. It’s not about one guy taking the PC – as everyone in India thinks. It’s about the guy who earned the PC, the guy that ran back and made the tackle, passed to the other guy, he passes it to the next and then we make the PC. It’s a team game all around, so, to focus one player… yeah. It’s like in soccer if you can take a free-kick, you’re a specialist. It helps you get selected. But someone’s gotta make that play for you to execute that skill.

"Harman’s definitely, at the moment, our No 1 flicker. He’s also played at the Olympics. He’s also used to bit more pressure. He played junior World Cup. Amit [Rohidas] was a bit in and out. Varun [Kumar] was a bit in and out as well, but he’s picked up a lot and is offering a lot to the team. We will be mixing it up [in the upcoming games]. We are not gonna make a decision based on one specific thing. We got three good guys. We got more than 10 variations. It’s just a matter of getting enough PCs to be able to execute," Ciriello added.

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