While former Indian hockey Olympians Ajitpal Singh, Zaffar Iqbal and Ashok Kumar criticized the Indian Hockey Federation for sacking chief coach Rajinder Singh, national selector Aslam Sher Khan, who was a member of India's 1974 World Cup-winning team, strongly defended the former Olympian's ouster.
Speaking to rediff.com in New Delhi after his return from Germany, Khan insisted that a foreign coach is the need of the hour for the Indian team and expressed home that the appointment of the German coach Gerhard Rach would benefit the team.
"I would say that Rajinder Singh should have been sacked six months back after the team started disintegrating and losing," he said, hastening to add "I do not know for what reasons Rajinder was sacked."
Welcoming the appointment of Rach, he said, "I would not say that it is too late. When I was appointed manager of the Indian hockey team in 2002 I had strongly recommended the need to hire a foreign coach to improve the performance of the team. There is no point living in the past and saying that hockey is in our blood and we are the masters of it. The game is changing fast and we must change as well."
Khan, whose 1982 autobiography 'To Hell With Indian Hockey' raised eyebrows, pointed out that despite the fact Holland are one of the top teams in the world they have still hired an Australian coach "to learn the game plans of the Australians".
"Likewise, Pakistan has hired a coach from Holland. So what is the big deal if the Indian Hockey Federation hires a German coach?" he asked.
Khan, along with former Olympians Gurbax Singh and B P Govinda, had been summoned to Germany to select the 16-member team for the Olympics.
Talking about the selection, he said, "The boys are in top condition and they are a confident young side. We have selected the best possible team and some of them are world-class players, like Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur and Prabjhot SIngh. On their day they can take on any team and win the game for India. I am sure the team will do well in the Olympics."