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Former players and officials express disappointment

Special Correspondent

Most blame the system rather than the team

Chennai: A sense of disappointment echoed in the sentiments of former hockey internationals after learning of India’s performance in the Olympic qualifiers in Chile. Most blamed the system rather than the team for the debacle and sought immediate changes.

Vasudevan Baskaran: Yes, it is very sad that we should miss the Olympics. But we should not panic and call for the resignation of coach and officials. We should speed up the junior programmes and use the expertise of Ric Charlesworth, the technical director from FIH, to shape the teams for future challenges.

Ajitpal Singh: It’s a day of shame for Indian hockey and for the nation as a whole. It is a shame that we can’t even qualify for the Olympics. You need boys with attitude, an attitude for winning. The body language of the players showed how they had gone into the final match. Any club side would have played better hockey. In the second half they didn’t even test the British goalkeeper. There was something wrong within the team. I was always for Sandeep (Singh) being taken in the team.This has put Indian hockey 20 years behind. Something should come out of this debacle. Let there be accountability. Nothing is happening in Indian hockey if you go and see the talent in the states; the pool of talent is very limited.

Zafar Iqbal: It is the darkest day of Indian hockey. Very shocking and very unfortunate. We did not utilise the chances and played poorly. I will not support sacking of players and the coach. Joaquim should be retained as coach. Chopping and changing will not help because these are the best players we could have picked. This team needs support and that is what I appeal for.

P. Krishnamurthy: There is no point in blaming the officials. All possible assistance has been given to the players. It is they who should have risen to the occasion. In fact, the players today have got more rewards than we, the medallists got so far.

A.K. Subbaiah: It must be the darkest day of Indian hockey. It all boils down to poor selection and approach. The game’s administrators should have seen it coming, given our past performances.

Ashish Ballal: Totally disappointing and I could not even imagine that Indian hockey would come to such a sorry pass. We had wrong specialists and potential of some of the youngsters were not fully exploited. This was a team that lacked coordination and they were simply not strong mentally to stand up to pressure.

M.P. Ganesh: This was waiting to happen the day we lost to China at the Asian Games. We did not bother to read the signs. I believe that we cannot hold any single individual responsible. The IHF should not accept Carvalho’s resignation as everyone, including players and administrators, were equally responsible.

Dhanraj Pillay: Britain was the only team worth beating at the Olympic qualifiers and we lost to them twice. It shows that the lessons of the earlier defeat were not learnt. I felt the players were not following any gameplan, the joint effort seemed missing.

N. Mukesh Kumar: It will be a big blow to the sport which is already struggling for survival. At least now, it is time for fresh ideas and youth to have a major say in the running of the sport. It will be unfair to blame Carvalho entirely for the debacle. May be, the team paid dearly for dropping seniors like Gagan Ajit Singh, Viren Rasquinha and Sandeep Singh.

R. S. Bhola: A coaching advisory council should be appointed to draw up a proper plan. They should have utilised the services of Charlesworth. Either bring him in directly into coaching the team or else let him train coaches.

Harbinder Singh: Britain outclassed us. We couldn’t play under pressure. Our poor trapping and aimless passing stood out. When Britain scored the first goal there were six defenders in the circle and the scorer was left unmarked. Britain played attacking hockey. This could have been a more humiliating defeat.

Mohammad Shahid: It is time the government interfered. Why did we reach the stage of having to qualify for the Olympics? It is a very sad and unfortunate day. It is not the first time we have lost but this loss would shatter the hockey fraternity. — With inputs from Correspondents in Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi

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