Indian hockey legends on Tuesday criticized the national team for their “average” performance at the World Cup, where they lost to New Zealand and crashed out in the quarterfinals. the Tokyo Olympics. India had entered the showpiece hoping to finish on the podium for the first time after winning a gold medal in 1975, but lost to New Zealand by sudden death in the crossover match.
On Thursday and Saturday, the hosts will play 9th to 16th ranking matches in Rourkela.
Ashok Kumar, a member of the 1975 gold winning team, said the Indians lacked quality and were far inferior to the top nations in all divisions of the game.
“The team received all kinds of support, a 6-7 month camp, exposure to foreign countries, first-class infrastructure, the best diets, what else could have been done? And what performance did they deliver? You can’t even reach the quarter-finals achieve a home World Cup for your fans,” said Kumar.
“It has a lot to do with the quality of the players, in the end the debacle was due to the fact that average players played average games. You can’t win a World Cup medal with that,” he added.
Kumar further analyzed the performance, saying, “Whenever we attacked, we mostly ended up in the opponent’s circle. I don’t know how the players were trained, there was no distribution of the ball, no creative passing.” They just knew not what they were supposed to do. If you can’t score more than four goals against a team like Wales, what are you doing? Since they cannot score from open play, they depended on penalty corners and Harmanpreet Singh was under immense pressure and he failed. We were unable to score in all areas of the game. Other than Akashdeep Singh, I would say no outfield player played well in the four matches.
“The team also failed miserably on defense. They conceded two goals against Wales and then let New Zealand come back twice after conceding two goals. They can’t do that in a World Cup. I don’t know why Rupinder Pal Singh quit after that.” the Olympics, he would have been a great asset in defense and PC conversion,” the 72-year-old said. Asked if there should be changes in the coaching staff, said Kumar, who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final of 1975 against arch-rival Pakistan: “We have had many foreign coaches in the past, but what is our performance in the world? Cup after 1975. Please tell me what difference there would have been if we had Indian coaches. In any case, Indian coaches would not have done worse.
“Thanks to the support of the government, especially the government of Odisha, we are hosting World Cups here and our team should have benefited from this. But it’s like we are hosting tournaments and our team is not getting any better. I feel like the good momentum that we won from the Tokyo Olympics has been stopped by this World Cup performance.”
Former captain Sardar Singh said the debacle was due to the team’s collective failure.
“Hockey is a team game. If you want to win a tournament, 14 to 15 players from the squad have to perform for 70 to 80 percent, which was missing at this World Cup,” said the legendary midfielder, who is part of the Hockey India selection committee.
“Hardik’s injury was a big blow as he was the key player in midfield. He was instrumental in linking up with the forwards and creating chances, as well as scoring a goal (against Spain).” Sardar also agreed that Harmanpreet felt pressure from the captain as he missed one penalty corner after another.
“He (Harmanpreet) felt the pressure of captaincy, including in a home World Cup. He is one of the best drag-flickers in the world and also did well in the Test series against Australia.
“But he didn’t look his best, maybe he felt the pressure. But he’s a world class player and can’t be ruled out.” On head coach Graham Reid asking for a mental conditioning coach, Sardar said, “If he (Reid) felt that, he should have increased the demand after the Olympics. Hockey India and SAI have provided all the necessary help to the team and they would dealt with it.” Dilip Tirkey, president of Hockey India and former captain, said it was very disappointing not to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup after the pinnacle of the Tokyo Olympics less than two years ago.
“Some of the players we had high expectations of somehow couldn’t perform. We all accepted it,” he said.
“We had several penalty corners, but we scored a few. There was also something missing in our defense.”
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