Jul 8, 2012

Defense and not attack will win games for India

Park the bus to win
Coach Nobbs and his attacking style of hockey are doing wonders for the Indian team and the strategy if all out attack is giving Indian team good results against decent teams. But the question is will the strategy of all out attack give same results in London Olympics?

To qualify for the semi-finals, India will have to go past Germany and Netherlands (probably New Zealand too) and one thing in which all these teams are good in is defending. Well, all the top teams in the world are great defensive unit. The top teams defend their goal very well which gives the attack-line a chance to go and search for the victory. In the year 2012 the top teams like Germany and Australia have rarely conceded any goals, and the games in which they have conceded the goals, they have just conceded just one or two goals. The goals per game avg is less than one which is enough to prove that they are great defensive unit. The ability of these teams to defend their goals gives an opportunity to the midfielders and strikers to move ahead freely and attack.

Compared to great defensive units of hockey, India which goes on all out attack has been found wanting when it comes to defense. In 2012, India has played 22 games and have conceded 40 goals with an average of 1.81 goals per game. If we include the practice match against Australia before Olympics hockey test event the avg goal per game increases to whopping 2.26.

Here is a simple explanation to why India should choose defense over attack when it comes to selecting a style of play.

First of all, Indian team does not have a world class attack. It is true that Indian team has some great forwards like Shivendra Sunil, Tushar Khandekar and SV Sunil. but overall India's attack is not world class. Indian forward line has missed many chances and keeps on missing 2-3 guaranteed goals every game. The habit of missing goals might work against lower ranked teams of the world, but against the top sides of the world, its going to be nothing short of self-destruction.

Another thing is, Indian defense is weak and well known for leaking goals so the whole team which is now playing all out attacking game will not be able to play the same way in Olympics. In the Olympics, Indian team will be under enormous pressure to perform well that most of the time Indian team will be looking behind and thinking about protecting the goal for the most of the time.

If Indian team is going to defend the goal most of the time then why not, change the style of play and adopt a defensive approach to the game or as they say 'park the bus'.

As every football fan knows parking the bus is

 'Defensive style of play whereby a team attempt to restrict the opposition by playing many players behind the ball with limited or no attacking play. Such a style of play is known for making it very difficult for the opposition to score.'

In my view, the right approach for the Indian team is to keep bodies behind the ball for most the time then counterattack at every opportunity. In the second game of India's European tour, France kept their players behind the 25 yard line and kept on defending the whole game. Though they lost the game 4-0 but they conceded fewer goals as compared to 8-2 drubbing the first game.

By keeping the bodies behind, Indian team can close the gaps at the back and keep the opponents at bay. Closing the gaps and giving no place to move will unsettle the opposition and force them to commit mistakes which will give chance to the Indian team to hit back and counter-attack. If the opposition finds it difficult to score against Indian team, half of the problem will be solved and then on counter attacks, India can cause damage and score.

Defensive style of play is not very popular in hockey but after hearing about France do it against India, a new door has opened and would like to see teams especially lower ranked teams trying this strategy and save themselves from losing with a high goal margin.

Yes, this style of play requires higher concentration from the players and high level of fitness. Indian team which has improved its fitness can easily adopt this style of play and put it into use. India has good 15 days before the start of the Olympics, why not Coach Nobbs put on his thinking cap and use it against the opponents in the upcoming games. Isn't defense the best form of attack

The games with defensive style will be boring for the fans, if Indian team is keeps the opposition from scoring goals, and win the games, the fans won't surely question the team's strategy.

After all isn't it all about winning?

1 comment:

  1. Guess u didnt follow hockey for a while. Jose Brasa did what u precisely said and the only thing we achieved was failing to even qualify for Olympics. Now you see India rubbing shoulders with the top teams pound for pound. Nobbs has never said that defense is not needed. He only said that we need to defend deeper and well. So it will be criminal not to attack which has been our trademark hockey. All u said about our forwards is true and thats why we are still 10th in the world. Truly becoz that their fitness and finesse was found wanting and thats what Nobbs want to improve upon. Once u score 2-3 goals in the first half, it would make our counterattacking game much easier as it plays in the mind of an opponent, rather to allow them score a goal which is criminal. U never see aussies defending every match to win, They have a good defense, but their style of hockey is always attack. That's becoz they have FIT players which none of the earlier coaches here insisted upon...