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IHF hints at appointing foreign coach

August 21, 2003 17:34 IST

In the backdrop of India's pathetic display in the ongoing Champions Trophy hockey tournament, the Indian Hockey Federation has indicated that it may appoint a foreign coach to reverse the fortunes of the team, which is "lacking in motivation".

"It is a possibility [appointing a foreign coach], but right now, I would not like to say anything on this subject," IHF secretary general K Jothikumaran said in Amstelveen, Amsterdam, on Thursday.

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The Indian team, which had raised hopes of breaking the Champions Trophy jinx after their recent victories in Sydney and Hamburg, has failed to make much of an impact losing three of their four matches in the tournament so far.

"I am not happy with the approach of the team. The players seem to be lacking in motivation and also a game plan," he said in a tacit admission of the sorry plight of the team.

Asked whether his observation could be construed as a reflection of improper coaching, Jothikumaran said: "I have no comments to make about the coaching at this point. But you could see for yourself that we repeatedly missed chances and our midfield was not functioning effectively."

He also dodged a question about whether the IHF is happy with coach Rajinder Singh in the light of the team's dismal performance in the tournament.

"We will take up the issue only after the tournament. But, right now, I would not like to comment on this," he said.

Jothikumaran, a former national-level hockey player, also termed as "alarming" the absence of wingers in the Indian team.

"Mark my words. It is an alarming sign that this Indian team has no wingers. If you do not use the wings, then you cannot stretch the rival defence," he said after India, voted by FIH's official web site as the pre-tournament favourites, suffered their third defeat.

"I think, this is where we went wrong in our matches in the Champions Trophy here.

"If you look at other teams, they make use of the wings to open out the game, whereas our team tends to focus all their moves in the middle where it can get cluttered."

However, he did not view the situation as a result of the selection of the team without specialist wingers.

Regarding the team's preparation for the Champions Trophy, he strongly defended the choice of Lucknow as the venue for the training camp.

"I think, the preparation of the team was excellent. I myself visited Lucknow thrice this month before the team left for Amsterdam. The team management was satisfied with the facilities and of course the weather.

"After all, Europe was experiencing a heat wave and it is only in the past couple of days that the temperature has dropped here.

"In Lucknow, the team was shaping up extremely well and nobody had any complaints. In fact, my advice to the players was that IHF was doing its best for them, and now, it was their turn to give off their best," Jothikumaran said.

Selection of Lucknow as the venue for the training camp just before the start of the Champions Trophy came in for criticism from various quarters since several members of the team fell sick during the camp, held in very hot and humid conditions.

"I would like to reiterate here that there was no pressure from our new sponsors, Sahara Parivar, that the camp should be held in Lucknow. In fact, it was a nice gesture on their part to provide us the facilities in Lucknow for the camp," he said.

Regarding the vexed issue of payment to the players, Jothikumaran said besides monthly salary, players would also get performance-based incentives.

"We have devised a monthly payment to the players, in the region of Rs 20,000. We also have performance-linked payments.

As I have been saying all along, the IHF would like to pass on the benefits from sponsorship to the players."

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