India might have failed to qualify for the quarterfinals of the ongoing Junior World Cup hockey, but chief coach Gregg Clark feels his wards have a "bright future" despite them producing an inconsistent show in front of home crowd in the mega-event here.
India had lost just against The Netherlands in the league stage but still they were crashed out of the quarterfinal race after finishing third in their pool.
"You guys can draw your own conclusions about the quality of our performance. We lost just one game by one goal and we are playing for 9 and 10th. If that represents failure I don't know. Not everybody can make it to the top position," he said.
"The format was pretty tough. Only two teams from each pool went through. There is lot of good teams that haven't done well in this tournament.
"Sometimes result is not always an indicator of how good a team is. One of the semifinalists, Malaysia, we played them six times this year and are undefeated. I still believe that the next couple of years are bright for the Indian team," Clark told reporters at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here today.
The coach listed out the areas India needed to work upon in the future.
"We could have been more accurate in some of the pool games. We didn't get small moments right which made a big difference. Our temperament before a big match or in the last 10 minutes of a big match is certainly an area we need to look at," he explained.
"The team has played really well in patches. We couldn't produce the best when it really counted. Overall, we have produced some pretty good hockey.
"As I said, we produced some good hockey and statistics say that. Apart from the match against the Dutch, we made more circle entries and got more penalty corners," the South African said.
India will now play arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday in what promises to be a cracker of a contest for the 9th-10th place.
"India-Pakistan is always a big match irrespective of what the setting is," Clark said.
"I think the pressure is off in terms of the fact that we are not in a medal position. But the traditional rivalry will be there. Not sure about pressure but everybody will be focused on the big match," he said.
Ramandeep Singh, who secured the highest bid of USD 81000 (approximately Rs. 50 lakh) from Uttar Pradesh Wizards during a closed-bid auction for the second season of the Hockey India League (HIL), finally proved his worth last night by scoring two brilliant field goals against Argentina.
But just when it seemed he has found his lost touch, a freak shoulder injury in the dying stages of the match against Argentina has cast a doubt on his availability in tomorrow's game against Pakistan.
"We are still waiting for some tests. The X-ray shows no damage but we are waiting for the MRI scan report. But he was pretty sore this morning," Clark said.
Clark, whose tenure with Indian colts ends after the ongoing World Cup, is still uncertain about his future.
"After tomorrow my involvement still has to be discussed with the powers that be. I wanted to finish this project and then everyone needs to make the decision about my involvement," he said.