Hockey India contemplating big changes after men’s team falters at Asian Games

first_imgHockey India is contemplating big changes, keeping in mind the men’s team qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.After the disaster in Jakarta, where the team lost in the penalty shoot-out to Malaysia in the semi-final, despondency has set in. “Winning bronze by defeating Pakistan 2-1 in the playoff is no consolation,” said a Hockey India official.Mail Today has learnt Hockey India is planning changes, which could mean dropping non-performing players and also putting coach Harendra Singh on notice.With the FIH World Cup to be held in Bhubaneshwar in December, there is genuine concern what will be the fate of the Indian team. Former Hockey India president Narinder Batra minced no words after the loss to Malaysia when he said Harendra Singh had failed to deliver. Others in Hockey India, too, feel Harendra cannot be coach as a long-term option.READ – Asian Games 2018: Defending champions India’s gold medal hopes endThere is a general belief all the top foreign coaches have already been hired. A former India captain not willing to be quoted said finding coaches from abroad is not an issue. “Who would not want to coach India, especially when a salary of over $10,000 per month is being offered,” he said.What happened in Jakarta was not an aberration. Scoring a plethora of goals against weak teams led to a sense of allurement. Even before the team left India, huge hype was created. Today, carping critics are using it against Harendra, saying the rhetoric he indulges in is of no use.advertisementThis is a Catch 22 situation for Hockey India. The utility of some senior players comes under the scanner with Sardar Singh and SV Sunil on top of the list. Hockey India could bring in more changes, but the question is whether to do it immediately or not and which players to dump.Also read – Asian Games 2018: India beat Pakistan to win bronze in men’s hockeyWhen Sjoerd Marijne was about to be sacked for non-performance, he was made the women’s coach. Similarly, Harendra’s job hangs precariously by the thread as hunting a foreign coach with good credentials is not impossible.To be sure, when Roeltant Oltmans was appointed the high performance director and then had to himself take over as hands-on coach before the Rio Olympics, none minded it. Oltmans was thrown out a year ago, but his successor as high performance director David John is not a hockey brain.There is no way today Hockey India can ask John to take over as coach. If the Indian team was not doing well, what inputs John gave in Jakarta will also come under scrutiny.Back to Harendra, when he was appointed, Hockey India had erred by asking players for their choice of coach. Today, the same players who had backed Harendra as coach are not going to stage a protest if a coach from overseas eventually takes over!Also read – Players showed character after semi-final setback: India hockey coach Harendra SinghThe stake holders who decide on coaching staff in Indian hockey involves the federation (Hockey India), Sports Authority of India and sports ministry. The government spends crores of rupees on coaches, camps, foodsupplements and tours.”Irrespective of how India fares in the World Cup, we have to back the team and hope they qualify for the Olympics,” said a former coach.The grapevine says Harendra’s position as coach has become vulnerable. “If men’s players had said communication was a problem with Sjoerd Marijne as he could speak only English, how come the same coach has workedwonders with the women’s team,” remarked another Hockey India official.Looking ahead, it’s clear Hockey India will look for a foreign coach. Inviting applications, screening it, and then conducting interviews will take time. Unless this is done, accountability cannot be fixed. The bigger issue staring at the face of Hockey India is what are the contributions of David John and others in support staff being paid in dollars. It includes penalty corner expert Chris Ciriello.last_img read more