A spirited India outclassed arch-rivals Pakistan 4—2 in a nerve-wracking shootout to regain the Asian Games men’s hockey gold medal and also sealed a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Walsh said the medal in Incheon is an “indicator” of the team’s progress.

“The situation now is very delicately balanced. We have moved to a better place with the team than what we were a year back,” the Australian told PTI in an interview.

“It was much-needed. The gold was a great tonic. But the real question from here on is sustainability and improvement. The need of the hour now is to make some aggressive strategy,” he said.

“The present group of players are very good but the real issue is longevity. You need to have development programmes for sustainability and longevity. There needs to be accountability which I am sorry to say is not present now,” he observed.

The gold in Incheon definitely gave Walsh some relief as he was under immense pressure to deliver results, but the chief coach said India still has a long way to traverse to match the top three of the world.

“We made good progression but you can never be happy as a coach. We are still not good enough to play top teams. The level of hockey in Asia is below what top teams like Australia, Germany and Netherlands play,” he said.

“But if you ask me whether my boys can play these teams now and give them a fight, I would say yes. In the beginning of the year, we didn’t have a chance to stand in front of these teams.”

Walsh was all praise for the Sardar Singh-led side and feels Incheon made this bunch of players realise the difference between passion and emotion.

The chief coach had special praise for a few players but said overall the back-line, which has been India’s perennial problem, has outperformed the forward-line.

“Our defensive record is very good in this tournament and Birendra Lakra was for me the player of the tournament. Kothajit (Singh) also came of age and Rupinder improved a defender. Gurbaz (Singh) was best right back in the entire competition for me, while Sreejesh as usual was brilliant in front of the goal,” Walsh said.

“But scoring should have been much better considering the fact that we have created plenty of chances.”

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