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Coach Rach hits back

M R Mishra | August 24, 2004 18:08 IST

India's chief hockey coach Gerhard Rach has taken strong exception to critical remarks on his tactics by some members of the team, saying in other countries the players would have been asked to go home right in the middle of a tournament.

Gerhard RachRach made it clear that he is not opposed to constructive criticism but said the kind of remarks being made are bound to affect team spirit and performance.

"I don't know what these players have been writing or telling television channels. If it was in Germany or any other country, the concerned players would have been asked to go home," Rach said.

"I am not worried about criticism. Just because two or three players have been critical about me, it does not mean that everybody is criticizing me. If they have a problem they can always speak to me. I think the team's interest comes first."

Rach, who took over the reins after Rajinder Singh was unceremoniously dumped barely a few weeks before the Olympics, has come in for flak from Dhanraj Pillay and Prabhjot Singh for trying to change too many things in a short time.

Prabhjot also criticized the coach, saying the German was biased towards him and under-utilized him in matches.

"I don't know what Prabhjot is complaining about. I don't know why he is mourning. He has played 50 to 55 minutes in every game. Even in the last match against Argentina he played for 25 minutes or so. For me, it's all an excuse for his failures. He has not performed up to expectations and is trying to hide his failures," Rach said.

Referring to Pillay's critical newspaper columns about his strategy, Rach said, "I would like to ask him [Pillay] what India has achieved in hockey in the last 16 years? If you don't start changing now you will not achieve anything for another 16 years."

The chief coach said he is not aware of captain Dilip Tirkey saying anything against his strategy.

"I don't think he will say anything critical about me or the team. Yes, I do know that he was unhappy with one substitution I made during the match against New Zealand, but it is his personal view; I don't think he is unhappy," he said.

But Rach is worried about the spate of injuries the team is beset with ahead of the classification match against arch-rivals Pakistan.

"There are a few injury problems. We will take stock of the situation. Goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza is injured; he was hit on the knee. Viren Rasquinha is also injured and so is William Xalco. Deepak Thakur said he wants to play, but we decided to give him rest. Let's see, hopefully, he can play the next match," he said.

On the match against Pakistan, Rach said, "Playing against Pakistan should be a motivation enough. Any India-Pakistan game is a special game. Hopefully, they can deliver the goods."

Asked about India's perennial problem of conceding last-minute goals, as has happened thrice in succession at the ongoing Games, Rach asserted it is definitely an area of concern that needs to be addressed immediately.

"They are not doing the basics correctly. The main thing is that they should not dribble in those last minutes, just push or hit the ball away. It is a problem area that has cost us heavily in the Games," he said.

Does he find it difficult to motivate the players?

"They are playing at the Olympics; it can't get bigger than this. The Olympics is motivation enough to do well for the country. There is no problem of motivation, it is a question of mindset."


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