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Former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh hit out at the current lot of drag-flickers in the national team and said they’re more focused on “playing” on social media rather scoring goals on the field.
“I’m not against anyone but if you are of no use, then it’s better to have an extra full back, defender or forward. They have to focus on (penalty corner) conversion rather than playing on social networking sites,” Sandeep, India’s one of the most successful best drag-flickers, said.
“They should attempt more on playing at grounds. That’s my opinion. They should keep themselves away from social networking sites,” Sandeep, who is here as consultant and technical adviser to CInI Tata Trust grassroots hockey development programme, said.
India’s inability to produce top-class penalty corner specialists has hurt them badly especially in Rio Olympics as both their drag-flickers in V R Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh had poor conversion rates.
Sandeep said India has created hype about producing three-four drag flickers but their inability to convert makes them an “extra baggage” in the team.
“You create hype about drag-flickers saying we have four-five in our team. But if you can’t produce top two from them, then it’s of no use.
“To have four-five of them but if none of them are effective, then it’s like carrying an extra baggage. If you see our conversion rate, it is less than 15 per cent even as we have four drag-flickers in the team,” he said about India’s plight despite having three penalty corner specialists in Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Gurjinder Singh.
“In Hockey India League, it’s less than seven per cent. Maybe three to four goals from 30-35 attempts… My maximum has been 75 per cent and a minimum of 35,” said Sandeep.
“I consider my Olympic performance as pathetic but still I had maintained 35 per cent — scored twice out of five. I did not play in HIL but I saw all matches. They don’t read goalkeepers. Basically it’s about reading goalkeepers and how they’re rushing out,” Sandeep said.
Singling out Australian Chris Ciriello and Argentine Gonzalo Peillat, he said they should look out to the duo.
“They both are more focused on scoring rather than showing off. They flick after reading the goalkeeper and the runners. If you see in finals and semifinals, they have taken their team single-handedly.”
He further said Indian juniors, who beat Belgium to win the World Cup crown after 15 years in December last year, should be given maximum chance keeping 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind.
“The young players who have won the Junior World Cup are really doing a great thing. I think we should keep our focus on Olympics and not Commonwealth and Asian Games next year.
“Focus should be on 2020. We won the junior World Cup in December 2016. We should give the junior World Cup players the maximum opportunity. They can attain their peak by 2020. Make them more experienced and give them proper exposure, rather than banking on players who are on their way out in one-two years.”