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Wrong on players to blame coach: Harbinder

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | August 25, 2004 19:07 IST

Former India hockey centre-forward Harbinder Singh says he is deeply disappointed with the performance of the team at the Athens Olympics and attributed its poor showing to frequent changing of players and coaches.

Speaking to, the three-time Olympian said wrong selection of players led to the poor show.

"I would say the frequent changes we have been making in the Indian team is the basic reason for our bad performance at the Olympic Games. Some of the boys are good, but you should have a combination of experience and youth in the side rather than merely inducting too many youngsters who do not have necessary international exposure," he said.

According to Harbinder, who was a member of Indian team at the Tokyo, Mexico and Munich Olympics, the defeat against Holland in the opening match led to the team's morale dropping despite victory over South Africa in the next match.

"By the time we started playing the rest of our league matches, against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, the team had no clue about what it was doing. This is evident from the fact that even a weak team like Argentina could force a draw with a mighty Indian side," he said.

Asked what are the other factors responsible for the dismal performance of the Indian team, Harbinder Singh, affirmed that the Indian Hockey Federation should not have changed the chief coach at the eleventh hour.

"The manner in which Rajinder Singh was replaced by a German coach was not a very happy precedent. Once the new coach has taken over the team should follow his instructions and not dispute his decisions. It is wrong on part of Dhanraj Pillay and Prabhjot Singh to blame the German coach for the poor show. If a particular player, for instance Gagan Ajit Singh, could not trap the ball and pass it on to his fellow-players then you certainly cannot hold the coach responsible.

"No coach would like to see his team losing. Our centre-forwards lacked penetration and the speed which should have been there was missing," he said.

He praised the Pakistanis for keeping their team morale high despite a poor show in the earlier stages.

"Despite failing to reach the semi-finals they won their last match against England 8-2," he added.

Former Olympian and selection committee member Aslam Sher Khan also expressed unhappiness with the performance of the team but refused to comment on it, saying it would be improper as he is a selector.

He said he would talk to the media after the team returns from Athens.

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