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'Gill, Jothikumaran must go'
March 10, 2008 17:34 IST
Former captain and Olympian Pargat Singh held the Indian Hockey Federation top brass responsible for India's failure to qualify for the Olympics [Images].
Pargat said it is high time the IHF top bosses took responsibility and stepped down from their posts.
"It's time the IHF office-bearers, including president K P S Gill and secretary K Jothikumaran, take moral responsibility for the poor performance of Indian hockey team in the Olympic qualifiers and immediately resign from their posts," Pargat said on Monday morning.
"It was not surprising that the Indian hockey team failed to qualify for the Olympics. It was expected due to the performance of IHF," Pargat said, adding the government should take control of the federation to save the national game.
Pargat said the resignation of IHF vice-president Narender Batra, who used to oppose Gill's autocratic governance of the federation, will allow the top brass of the federation to function more whimsically now.
"His resignation will adversely affect the functioning of IHF, as Gill and Jothikumaran, who have virtually forged a nexus, will be free to ruin Indian hockey further," Pargat said.
Three-time Olympian [1980, '84, '88] and currently technical adviser of the national juniors Mervyn Fernandis was at a loss for words when asked for his reaction.
"What can I say? Sad and unfortunate... after preparing so well," he said.
"We should not keep talking about eight-time gold medalists and failing to qualify after 80 years and all that. I know it hurts, but today the competition is so intense that even teams like Germany [Images] are having to play in the qualifiers. [World champions Germany also failed to gain an automatic Olympic berth after losing to Belgium in the bronze medal match of the European championships in 2007 and must now win the third and final qualifying tournament, that includes Malaysia, Italy [Images], Poland, Switzerland [Images] and the hosts, in Kakamigahara, Japan [Images] in April.] It so happened that we had one bad game and we were doomed.
"Instead of playing the blame-game, I think we should now concentrate on picking up the pieces and working towards regaining old glory," he added.
Another Olympian, Gagan Ajit Singh, said, "It is the saddest day for
Indian hockey. The IHF top brass, including its president and coach, should step down immediately and pave way for fresh people."
He said the team's failure to qualify for the Olympics after 80 years is not just a "national shame", but a great disappointment for "world hockey as well""
"It's a loss for world hockey as others want India to do well and be there," he said.
He said it is beyond comprehension why players like him, Len Aiyappa, Sandeep Singh and Deepak Thakur, who played well in the Premier Hockey League, were ignored by the selectors.
"The English team had earlier gone on record saying they fear Sandeep Singh, who would have been an asset if he had played. Other players who were doing really well were not even considered," he regretted.
Balwinder Singh Saini, who played 156 international matches, said coach Joaquim Carvalho and the selectors should step down following the team's shock defeat.
"First of all, a player like Sandeep Singh was ignored. In the absence of experienced players, how can the selectors even think that the team will qualify," he said.
Coach of the Junior World Cup-winning team of 2001, Narinder Singh Sodhi, said though it was a "black day for our hockey, it is not the end of the road".
"Our hockey is not finished with this defeat. We have players like Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Singh, Vikram Pillay, Kanwalpreet Singh and Tejbir Singh who cannot be ignored. They are not too old to be sidelined," Sodhi said.
Satinder Sharma, who has umpired in 99 international matches and will be umpiring in the forthcoming Olympics, said it is sad that the Indian team would not be there in Beijing.
"I think now we will have to re-draw our strategy and do some re-thinking. We will also have to put in a lot of effort at the grassroots level. Creating discipline among our players is also very important so that they don't have to sit out on account of receiving yellow cards," he said.
Sukhbir Singh Grewal, coach of the national team from 1987-92, said making short-term strategies and expecting better results do not go hand-in-hand.
"We have changed 15 coaches in 10 years. How can they do justice," he said.
He said the state associations were also not functioning properly.
"We have not played against top six teams and considered our wins against teams like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [Images] a big thing. Naturally, when your team will be pitted against big teams, they will succumb under pressure," he said.
He said it is time to take a re-look at training methods.
"We need specialists like sports psychologist, sports medicine experts, training experts etc to groom our players," he said.