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IHF, team management under scanner

December 07, 2006 16:45 IST

Stunned by the team's humiliating loss to China at the Asian Games, former hockey players lashed out at the "skewed" selection policy of the Indian Hockey Federation and the strategies of the team management.

Mercurial forward and four-time Olympian Dhanraj Pillay blamed the the IHF top brass for the downslide of Indian hockey.

"What can I say? Ask (IHF President) KPS Gill and (Secretary) K Jothikumaran -- the people who are sitting there and running the show. Ask the selectors," Pillay quipped.

Asked where the team was lacking, the player shot back: "tell me where we are not lacking?"

Former captain and a left winger of repute Zafar Iqbal was lost for words while reacting to the disappointing loss of the Indian team to minnows China.

"What is there to say. After a stage, reactions lose their weight," he said.

However, Iqbal said tactical errors were to be blamed for India's poor showing at the Asian Games.

"The loss was purely because of tactical errors. China is a weak team and it is common sense that weaker teams play defensively.

"Even in the 1980s we had played against China and their strategy was similar. We could win that match only by a 2-0 margin even though we were a much better side," Iqbal said.

"In this case, they were defensive throughout and wherever they got the chance they scored," he said.

Iqbal said instead of playing into China's hands, India should have waited for them to open up and launched their attack.

"Also, since we don't have a natural centre-half, Viren Rasquinha (dropped from squad at eleventh hour) would have been good at least for a competition at the Asian level."

He said the absence of a penalty corner expert was also adversely affecting India's chances in international tournaments.

"We got some seven-eight short corners, but we don't have a genuine penalty corner expert. We have a new chap (V Raghunath), but he is shaky," he said.

Iqbal rued that the series of defeats hardly seem to be bothering the IHF.

"There is no effect on the IHF and it makes no sense in explaining these to them. The state units are also responsible for India's degradation as they are not bothered for a change. The former players cannot achieve anything by shouting from the sidelines," he said.

Another former captain Mukesh Kumar said the defeat to China was unexpected and ex-players like were having to bear the humiliation for the team's underperformance.

"I did not expect that we would lose to China. Wherever we go people ask about this," he said.

Mukesh criticised the move to leave out an experienced player like Rasquinha in an important outing like the Asian Games.

"I think Viren and Deepak Thakur should have been there. Viren is the best player when it comes to man-to-man marking. At least, he should not have been dropped after making him go through a two-month long camp. When you are going on a big tour, you should not invite curses," he said.

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