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Rajinder Jr axed; Bhaskaran is chief hockey coach
April 03, 2006 19:26 IST
Continuing its hire and fire policy, the Indian Hockey Federation on Monday sacked Rajinder Singh Jr and appointed former Olympian Vasudevan Bhaskaran for yet another stint with the national team.
Rajinder, who was at the helm for a year, earned the dubious distinction of being the ninth coach to be shown the door by IHF chief K P S Gill.
Bhaskaran's appointment was largely expected after India's dismal performance in the recent Commonwealth Games, where they finished a lowly sixth, which intensified the clamour for Rajinder's ouster.
Not unfamiliar with the job after having coached the team twice on earlier occasions, Bhaskaran said he is ready for the challenges that lay ahead.
"I know being coach of a national senior team is like being in the hot seat, but I am ready for the challenges," he said.
The IHF did not make any formal announcement as such, but mentioned Bhaskaran's name as the coach of the team for a four-nation tournament, to be held in Germany from April 15 to 17, in a statement.
It is understood that Bhaskaran, who was India's coach at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, will be in charge till the Doha Asian Games in December.
Indian Airlines coach Harendra Singh has been named assistant coach while M R Negi is the goalkeeping coach, the statement added.
Bhaskaran, who led the Indian team to its last Olympic gold, at Moscow in 1980, was the chief coach of the team that won the Sultan Azlan Shah Gold Cup in 1995.
He was at the helm of affairs at the Champions Trophy in 1996, the Indo-Pak Test series in 1998 and the World Cup the same year. He was also coach of the Indian squad for Asia Cup in 1999.
He coached the Indian team at Junior World Cup in 1997 at Milton Keynes, where they won a silver medal.
"Bhaskaran has done well in the past as a coach. He has been following the game closely and he is the first FIH-accredited coach of India. I am sure he and the rest of the two coaches will do well," IHF secretary K Jothikumaran said.
Harendra Singh, who assisted Bhaskaran for the Sydney Olympics, guided the junior team to many a memorable performances.
Bhaskaran's return to the post was imminent since this morning after he air dashed to Delhi from Hyderabad for consultations with IHF bosses.
India failed to win any of the five tournaments it competed under Rajinder in the last year.
In the first tournament under Rajinder, the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia last May, India ended up fifth among seven teams.
Then came another lacklustre performance in eight-nation Rabo Bank Trophy, where they finished seventh.
Last December, the Indian team finished with the wooden spoon at the six-nation Champions Trophy in Chennai and lost the recent hockey series to Pakistan 1-3 before placing sixth in the just-concluded Commonwealth Games.