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Pillay was given a raw deal: Shahid
September 02, 2004 20:41 IST
Legendary hockey player Mohammad Shahid says mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay was given a raw deal at the Olympics as he was not allowed to play for longer periods despite performing better than other forwards at Athens.
Pillay, who played his fourth and final Games, made brief appearances in most matches and played less than three minutes in his last match against South Korea.
"He played well and even better than others but was not allowed to play for long throughout the Olympics. The country should be grateful to such players but, unfortunately, they were given raw deals. I strongly believe that whatever happened to Pillay in Athens was intentional," Shahid said on Thursday.
"I could make out that he was very, very hurt after the last game. He was crying, which is quite understandable. He deserved better treatment for the contribution he has made to the game in the last 16 years."
Incidentally, Shahid, whom Pillay considers his idol, had suffered similar fate when he was forced to make an unceremonious exit from the game in his final Olympics at Seoul in 1988.
The Varanasi-based former India captain said such things are not new in Indian hockey.
"These things have been happening for years. Players who gave their all for the game got such treatment in return."
On India's dismal showing in the Games, Shahid blamed it on poor planning and said the decision to hire German coach Gerhard Rach just before the Olympics undid all the good work done in the run-up to the event.
"I would not have even accepted the offer at the last minute. If he [Rach] was so good, he would have been coaching his own national team," he said.
"Rajinder Singh had worked hard for three years. He knew the strength and weaknesses of the players. The change affected the performance of the team."
He said the strategy adopted for the event was to be blamed for the failure of the forwardline.
"We always played for longer duration. But if you give five or seven minutes to a player and then pull him out, how is he going to settle? The way we used to play was changed, which left the forwardline to struggle."
Advocating a proactive approach by the Indian Hockey Federation to stem the rot, Shahid said it is high time that the Federation has some hockey players in their ranks.
"Now we have people in IHF who have never played hockey in their life. It's futile to expect them to work for improvement of the game in the country.
"After the poor performance in the Olympics, the IHF must think seriously about plugging the loopholes. They should start preparing teams for the future by grooming youngsters," added Shahid.