'I am fit for the job,' says coach C R Kumar
Hockey coach C R Kumar, who took over from Cedric D'Souza in controversial circumstances midway
through the 10th men's World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, says his
predecessor did not agree to the use of a shooting striker in
the crucial match against England, and added that he is fit to take over the team.
"He [D'Souza] had a fear that we had not trained for this
[playing with a shooting striker] during the last 14 months
and a sudden change in our system might not fetch us
anything," Kumar told the Press Trust of India in Chennai on Monday.
"He wanted to go with his game plan; he is so much experienced. No one could say anything, as coaches the world over are like that." Kumar said.
However, he was not ready to blame his predecessor for the
team's poor results in the just-concluded tournament.
"We have to take collective responsibility for everything and cannot blame just one person. Cedric consulted me and took my observations. But decision-making was with him. He always discussed every aspect of performance, whether we lost or won, with me and the players."
Kumar said the team's uninspiring display in the first four matches was a big shock for D'Souza and he could not get over it.
"After we lost our first three matches, he could not get
over from the shock. I felt he needed some rest. But he was a
team man and there was no doubt about that," he said.
He did not find any thing wrong with IHF's action against D'Souza.
"One should take examples from other games like football
where coaches are changed in between prestigous championships
for bad performances," he said.
He echoed the IHF's version that D'Souza was just asked to
rest for two matches. "Cedric took it differently and felt he had been almost
axed from the job. Even I asked Cedric to continue. What else
can I do?
"I cannot follow suit and return to India. For me, the
nation is the topmost priority and then the game. Cedric, to
me, comes third in the list of priorities. He has been my guru
and will continue to be so," Kumar said.
Kumar felt he is now ready to take over the hot seat as he had
been handling national teams for the last five years.
"For the last five years I have been handling national
teams. There is no big deal in it; it is very simple for me
to handle the team.
"I have seen so many international matches and did my FIH
course and interacted a lot with international coaches. I feel
that after having more than 100 international matches, if a
coach still plays matches under pressure, he is unfit to be
national coach," he said.
"In my opinion, I am fit for the job. The present junior
boys would be graduated to senior levels and these players
would be the team of the future. No new faces are going to be
"All juniors who trained under me for over 2-1/2 years
know my calibre and I know their potential. The players will
be more happy about me coaching them," he added.
Kumar also denied reports attributing India's failure to players being overworked.
"The last phase of the training was very soft. The players
had done much harder training before and this was nothing
new. Especially in Ipoh, we never gave them an excessive workload.
"In fact, Malaysia played five practice matches while we
played a 35 minute game each against Argentina and South
Africa before the tournament," Kumar said.
"The boys were given total rest on the eve of our first
match against Japan and we did not fail to take care of the
players' recovery part. None can say they were given heavy
The new coach also denied that there was lack of
co-ordination between the senior and junior players.
"There was absolute co-ordination. The players never experienced such problems on and off the field. While playing,
there might have been some difficulties. The experienced players sometimes cannot match the
juniors' speed. The juniors are more agile and the experenced
players cannot play 35 minutes at a stretch."
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