Set to play for the bottom half positions in the 12-team hockey World Cup here, India coach Jose Brasa today said the country would not have played at the same level of top teams in just seven months of preparation.
Brasa, who took up the reigns in June last year, said he was happy with the performance of the side considering the lack of experience and absence of international matches in the build-up to the tournament.
"I'm happy with the performance of the team. We are improving since the time I took up the job. We would not have matched the best teams in the world in just seven months of preparation. We were close to the best teams in this World Cup and that is the positive we will take from this event," he said after India lost narrowly to England in their penultimate Pool B match here.
"We played well today, better than against Spain, at the same level against Pakistan and Australia. We deserved a draw today. Had Rajpal Singh scored in the last minute we could have got a point. We now have to play for the seventh- eighth position," added Brasa who had aimed for a semi-final berth for the team before the tournament.
Brasa, who was appointed as India coach later this year, said he has no plans to change his mind and quit after the World Cup performance.
"I am continuing (at the job). I am happy because the team is improving. We did not have any international match except for the Champions Challenge I (in December last year) in the build-up to the World Cup. We are a learning side and our target is to do well in the Asian Games," he said.
He said India were done in by the first goal and failure to convert the (two) penalty corners.
"We did not learn from the past mistake against Spain. The first goal we conceded was similar to the one Spain scored against us. If you commit these kind of mistakes at the top level competitions you have to pay for it.
"But all these cannot be changed in a short time. We need many more matches at the top level to rectify all these mistakes. We did not have that in the build-up to the World Cup. Seven months is too short to sort out those things and without playing international matches," said the experienced coach.
Brasa said he would not take the South Africa lightly against whom India will play their last Pool B match on March 8.
"South Africa are a very good side. They played very well against Pakistan, Spain and England. It will not be an easy match for us against them.
"It is not going to be easy against any side in a World Cup. Had we been in Pool A it would have been tough as there also the teams are strong," Brasa said.
Captain Rajpal Singh echoed the sentiments of his coach, saying India deserved a point against England.
"We played much better than against Spain. We missed a couple of chances also. Had I scored in the last minute it would have been a draw," he rued.
Veteran striker Prabhjot Singh also felt that the team was improving but there was problem in man-to-man marking throughout the tournament.
"We played much better today than against Spain. We could have got a draw today but we missed our chances and failed to convert a couple of penalty corners. We also did not do well in man-to-man marking in the tournament," he said.
England's Ashley Jackson who scored twice said his side missed Richard Mantell who had returned home after dislocating his right ankle but said except for around 15 minutes, they dominated the match.
"Richard is such a big player, obviously we missed him. But we played well, we controlled the game for most part of the match. India controlled only around 5 minutes," he said.