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Nothing wrong with Rach's tactics: Gill

M R Mishra | August 27, 2004 17:37 IST

India's beleaguered hockey coach Gerhard Rach received a vote of confidence on Friday from Indian Hockey Federation chief KPS Gill, who insisted that there was nothing wrong with the tactics the German employed during the Olympic men's hockey tournament in Athens.

Gill said the coach can draw up a strategy but it is the responsibility of the players to execute it.

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"There was nothing wrong with the tactics; it was proved with our victory against Korea today [Friday]. We don't want coaches who lick the boots of the players. We want coaches who want discipline and who can make the players work hard," Gill said on Friday, after India beat South Korea 5-2 in the play-off for seventh-eight positions.

"The players have to implement the tactics. The coach cannot go and score the goals for the team. He can guide you, but the players on the field have to do the job," he said.

Gill also made it clear that he will not tolerate indiscipline and not hesitate to crack the whip on those players flouting the code of conduct.

"Hockey is a team game and nobody is above the game. We will not tolerate any indiscipline," he declared.

He, however, said the federation is not contemplating disciplinary action against players like Dhanraj Pillay and Prabhjot Singh for openly criticizing the tactics of Rach during the Olympic tournament though it has taken a strong view on the issue.

"We have taken strong exception to these remarks. We are not taking any disciplinary action, but we are prohibiting players from writing articles in the future. We had allowed them this time because we did not want to deprive the players from getting some money.

"They had assured us that they would not write anything controversial. But they have betrayed those assurances; we will stop them from writing now," Gill said.

Asked whether India's seventh place finish in the Olympic Games was mainly because coach Rach did not get the support of the seniors in the team, he replied: "The team could have done much better but for certain things which I do not want to discuss.

"I do not believe in the concept of seniors or juniors; it is all nonsense. A player is in the team and it is the team that plays. All the players have to regard themselves as team men; there is no scope for individual players."

Gill said there is very little scope for individual play in modern hockey, which has become very fast over the years.

"Today because of the speed with which hockey is played there is no scope for individuals. All the 11 players have to play, not just one player. So I don't believe that anybody is a senior or a junior when he is playing for the country. What counts is how you perform. The experience of losing is no experience; the experience of winning is experience."

Gill maintained that India could have secured a berth in the semi-finals as they played "magnificently" in the first three matches but the defeat against New Zealand through a controversial goal upset calculations to a great extent.

"I still maintain that we could have made it to the semi-finals. We had a few bad matches like the ones against New Zealand and Pakistan and that cost us badly. We could have finished higher," he said.

Asked to specify what went wrong for the team, which underwent extensive training in United States and Germany in the build-up to the Olympics, Gill said, "I don't want to answer the question. The whole country knows what went wrong.

"There was a campaign for the inclusion of some players. But I cannot blame any one, because the decision was mine."

Although he did not divulge names, Gill could have been hinting about the inclusion of Pillay, who was initially overlooked for the Olympic probables' camp but later named in the squad after an outcry over his exclusion.

Analyzing the performance of the team in the mega event, he said: "There was nothing that went wrong. We played magnificently in the first three matches, but one or two bad matches upset everything.

"Although some people said India was placed in an easy group, I always felt that we were in a stronger group. The defending champions Holland, and Australia, who are in contention for a medal, were in our group. Against Australia we suffered a last-minute goal because of an error. It was a lucky goal.

"Against Holland, by the time the team got the rhythm to make some counter offensives, the match was over.

"But the positive thing is that today we beat Korea, and our win was because of the tactics. What is heartening is that even though it was the last match of the tournament, we outplayed them in energy, speed and ball play. The Koreans have a lot of energy at the fag end of the tournament, so it is a good sign that augurs well for Indian hockey.

"Korea was not in the match today. It showed that there is nothing wrong with the strategy, but we just have to get the players to do the job."

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