London: India's chief coach Micheal Nobbs said that his wards did not play their natural game, especially in the first half against the mighty Netherlands in their opening Group B match of the men's hockey competition in the Olympics on Monday.
Returning back to the Olympics after a gap of eight years, erstwhile champions India fought hard before going down 2-3 against the Netherlands at the Riverbank Arena.
The Indian players, all but two of them making their maiden Olympic appearance, were tentative and showed plenty of nerves to allow the Dutch enjoy complete domination in the first half.
"We did not play our natural game in the first half. They boys perhaps got overawed by the Dutch team instead of playing their game," Nobbs said at the post-match press conference.
India fell 0-2 behind in the first half, but managed to draw 2-2 level after the change of ends before the Dutch got the match-winner through a penalty corner conversion.
"When we played our game in the second half, we had our chances," added the Australian.
India captain Bharat Chetri felt his team "played a decent game" against the Netherlands. "Back in the Olympics after eight years and playing one of the world's top teams, we were hopeful of matching them," said Chetri. "We had some chances, but we were not able to force as many penalty corners as we wanted," he added.
The Netherlands coach Paul van Ass said the opening match is always the difficult part of the tournament, but he was surprised to see India's comeback from 0-2 down. "I like the way India play hockey, and they showed that when they came back from 0-2 down to make it 2-2 before we got the match-winner," Van Ass said.
"I never expected India to bounce back from the halftime position of 0-2, but they pushed us back in the second half," the Dutch coach said. "We did not want that situation and I'm glad we were able to fix that with another goal," he added, asserting that the Dutch strikers missed a lot of chances. "It's nice to start with three points."
The Dutch captain Floris Evers, however, was not pleased to have allowed India to make a comeback. "When you are 2-0 up, you want to keep it that way. It was not a good display from us to give away two goals and allow India back into the game," he said.
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