Former India hockey stars, Ajitpal Singh, Ashok Kumar and Zafar Iqbal criticized the sacking of Rajinder Singh, chief coach of the Indian hockey team for past couple of years, and described the arbitrary move of Indian Hockey Federation chief K P S Gill as "anti-hockey".
Ajitpal Singh, who led India to victory in the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, said the move came as no surprise to him.
"In last ten years the Indian Hockey Federation has sacked over 15 coaches and Rajinder Singh is no exception to the rule. He has been sacrificed for no fault of his. We all know how the IHF is being run these days. Unfortunately, we have a situation where no one dares to tell the IHF top brass what they are doing is not in the interest of the game. The question is who will bell the bull," he told rediff.com.
Another former captain, Zafar Iqbal, who was part of the team that won the last of India's Olympic gold medals at Moscow in 1980, said that he sympathizes with Rajinder Singh for the treatment meted out to him.
"Why should some defeats in warm-up matches be taken so seriously so as to axe the chief coach without assigning any reason. After all, the man who was working with the Indian team for last couple of years had got some attachment. I feel for Rajinder because I can understand what kind of trauma he must be undergoing right now.
"This kind of actions do not give confidence to the Indian hockey players who are going to participate in the Olympic Games in less then a month from now," he said.
Ashok Kumar, son of the legendary Dhyan Chand, described the Rajinder's sacking as unusual.
"With less then a month to go for the Olympics you do not sack the coach for a couple of matches here or there. The Indian Hockey Federation is being run in an autocratic manner," he said.
All the three former Olympians wondered whether the newly-appointed German coach Gerhard Rach would be able to deliver in such a short spell.
They were of the view that "if you wanted a foreign coach for the Indian team you should have waited for the Olympic Games to be over or had him at least six months before the event."
"After all, the coach needs time to work with the boys and give them his plans and strategies." they said.