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Hockey greats lament World Cup humiliation
September 13, 2006 20:28 IST
Stunned by the humiliation at the hockey World Cup, former stalwarts called for an overhaul of the set-up in the country and major changes in the Indian team, which they said lacked the spirit to win.
Ashok Kumar, former India captain and son of the legendary Dhyan Chand, said the team is paying the price for the flawed policies of the Indian Hockey Federation.
"It just did not appear as if the team had gone there to play seriously. We were let down because of a lack of proper game plan and uncertainty in the team," he said.
"The demand of the hour is to focus on domestic hockey; we have been getting disastrous results because more concentration is being paid to international hockey. We have achieved nothing by sending our team for frequent international tournaments; perhaps it has only served the personal interests of IHF," he added.
Ashok did not spare the coaches as well, saying most of them lack the credentials to guide the team.
"The coaches are incompetent and lack the required calibre and knowledge to prepare the players for international level competitions," said the hockey ace, best known for scoring the goal that gave India its only World Cup in 1975.
Another former India captain and outside-left Zafar Iqbal said the performance of the team reflected the sad state of the game in the country.
"The World Cup performance of Indian hockey team has been pathetic; there have been no positives at all. During all the matches the team was in a defensive mode. They were not attacking at all and it appeared they were playing for a draw instead of pushing for a win," said Iqbal, who formed a lethal combination with Mohd. Shahid in his heyday.
Iqbal was of the view that the team lacked quality players.
"Physical fitness is also one important aspect where we lag behind other teams. The IHF must do something about it," he said.
Veteran right-winger Mukesh Kumar felt the team missed the presence of Sandeep Singh, ruled out of the tournament at the last minute following an injury sustained when a gun accidentally went off.
"Sandeep's injury came as a big blow to the team. I feel the rest of the players lost confidence because of his absence," he said, adding the team generally lacked quality players.
"Our players play well throughout the game, but suddenly lose confidence in the last few minutes. Perhaps it is because there are no quality players and the existing ones do not
prepare well," said the former right-winder.
He suggested that experts should be called to train the team and each player should develop his own style with different variations.
Former World Cupper and Olympian Lazarus Barla said the selection process needs to be overhauled.
"The coach should have a more effective role during the team selection rather than the IHF members."
Barla said the players lack the mindset that is required for playing at the highest level.
"There is a lot of pressure in such tournaments. The players need to be mentally strong for dealing with any kind of situation. The humiliating defeats of the team should serve as a lesson for the IHF. It should think and reflect on the loopholes in the system."
Chennai-based former Olympian Mohammed Riyaz simply blamed the players for the poor results, which included a 3-2 defeat at the hands of minnows England and a 6-1 drubbing by the Netherlands.
The Indians are languishing at the bottom of the points' table, with just one point from five matches.
"The team is still finding its feet. Defence is a little shaky and the forwards are also not performing to their potential," said Riyaz, hoping that the team would pull up its socks in time for the Asian Games in Doha in December.