London: India coach Michael Nobbs on Sunday apologised to the hockey fans back home, saying the players had let the nation down with their insipid performance at the London Olympics here on Sunday.
"The players have failed to perform. Call it pressure or whatever, they have let themselves, the team and the country down," Nobbs said after India's 1-4 defeat, their fourth successive in the competition, to South Korea.
Sunday's loss has left India at the bottom of Pool B, pushing the eight-time gold medalists to their lowest ever ranking at the Olympics. Their previous worst show was at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, when they finished eighth.
According to the new rules for positional play-offs, there will be a direct encounter between the teams of two pools which do not make it to the semi-finals. It means India will play with the bottom-placed team in the other pool for the 11th place.
India is the only team in the competition to not have gained a single point so far, and even if they win their last pool match against Belgium, they will still finish at the bottom of the group as all other teams in their half have four or more points.
Nobbs said the hockey fans ought to be disappointed with the performance of this team, which not only failed to secure a point but also could not show the heart for a fight. "I owe an apology to the nation and the Indian fans for letting them down," he said. "You just get one chance in a lifetime and you just cannot walk out without performing," Nobbs added.
Former Indian international Mohammed Riaz, the assistant coach, said the team missed several chances before crashing to defeat against the Koreans. "We played a bad first half and then put up a better show in the second session, but we missed seven chances in this match," Riaz said.
Indias captain Bharat Chetri said the Indian players had repeated mistakes one match after another. "We're making silly mistakes. Look at our trapping. Such poor performance is not expected from the team," Chetri said. "Even our penalty corners are not producing goals as Sandeep Singh and V Raghunath have been off-target. We are a young team that does not have the experience of big events like the Olympic Games," he said.
South Korean player Jang Jong Hyun said the Indian players got tired in the second half and that gave them chances to breach their defence. "I think the Indian players were getting really tired and we could feel that, so we decided to attack even harder to take advantage of their weakened position," Jan said.