Coach Streeder says Indian hockey team needs to improve defence

Rupinderpal Harmanpreet SinghBengaluru: India's hockey team's analytical coach Hans Streeder on Friday emphasised the importance of improving the team's defensive structure as it bids to bridge the gap against the top teams.

The Dutch coach, who joined the national camp on March 14 where a group of 33 core probables are training ahead of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, said the team will play in a much more flamboyant style if its defence is strong.

Streeder and Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans have identified the main targets for the team as the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the Hockey World League (HWL) Final Bhubaneswar 2017.

"I would like to see the team improve upon their defence structure. You can only attack freely when you know your defence is covered," Streeder said in a release.

Streeder is no stranger to Indian hockey. In 2012, he worked briefly with then chief coach Michael Nobbs when the Indian team visited Rotterdam. Streeder was also part of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) franchise Uttar Pradesh Wizards as their analytical coach for three years since the inaugural edition.

"I've seen a lot of these players closely. They are a very skilful and excited bunch," expressed the 58-year-old here.

"I feel it's a great luxury that the national team gets to train and live together for as long as six weeks in the camp because back in Netherlands, we would get just one or two days a week to train with the members of the national squad. The Indian system is a lot better because you can track the progress closely," stated Streeder.

Streeder was previously with the Netherlands Junior squad and has closely watched and analysed the junior Indian team who lifted the World Cup in December 2016.

"I was on the video tower for every single match and I have watched these boys closely. The 11 players from that team who are in the camp here are very talented, no doubt. But I would like them to work in a new structure, understand what's expected of them from every session and execute it.

"Whether they are junior or seniors it doesn't matter as long as they play in the structure planned and created for them," he asserted.

One of the key challenges as an analytical coach, Streeder felt, is to keep the sessions fresh.

"It is important to stay fresh in doing what you do on pitch. Drills need to be fresh but not too difficult so the players can be excited and upbeat about it," he said.

"The structure needs to be clear for them to execute well. But since I have worked with Roelant in the past I know exactly what he expects from me so it becomes easier," he concluded.