Indian hockey’s coach in-charge Harendra Singh promised on Wednesday to end his association with the game if Australian coach Ric Charlesworth’s assertion of beating his wards 10-0 comes true during the team’s tour Down Under.
Charlesworth,a former consultant with the Indian team,left the post under bitter circumstances last year and took up the Aussie coach’s job.
He recently challenged Indians,saying the Aussies would beat them 10-0 during their two-Test tour Down Under.
“Indian hockey is not in a such a bad state that it will lose 10-0 to Australia or any side. If that happens it will be the last day of my association with hockey,” Harendra said when asked about Charlesworth’s statement.
On a high after the runners-up finish in the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament,Harendra said the team would be working on the grey areas of its game during the tours of Australia and New Zealand.
Harendra,under whom Indian hockey started its revival journey drawing last month’s four-Test away series against Argentina 2-2,said although the eight-time Olympic champions lost the Gold Cup final to European Champions Holland 1-2,there were a lot of positives to be taken from the event.
“Post Olympic qualifying debacle,the team was low on confidence and morale but the performance in Argentina and in the Punjab Gold Cup has brought back their confidence,” Harendra told reporters on the sidelines of a felicitation function organised ahead of their departure to Australia on Wednesday.
“But there are certain areas which we have to work upon. We have to tighten our defence and avoid conceding soft penalty corners in the coming matches,” he said.
The two-match series against Australia would be followed by another four-match series in New Zealand from February 19.
“I have set realistic targets for my team. The tours fall within the plan for the 2010 World Cup,it’s a step by step process. The main idea behind the tours is to make the players ready for playing in any adverse climate. The Aussies play fast and attacking hockey and I too prefer attacking hockey. So,my main goal in Australia is to win or draw the first match and instil confidence in players,” Harendra said.
Asked about the side’s strengths,he said,”Penalty corner has always been India’s strength and it still remains so. To add to this,we also have a strong forward line.” On the issue of a foreign coach,Harendra reiterated that he was always in favour of an overseas coach as they have better technological know how.
“I have always said foreign coach is very important. It would be the icing on the cake for India hockey,if an Indian coach can work hand in hand with a foreign coach. Hockey is now science; it is more physically demanding and involves various psychological factors. Unfortunately we don’t have good coaches with strong scientific knowledge in the sub-continent,” he said.
India captain Sandeep Singh also echoed the coach’s feelings and said the team would be aiming to improve their shortcomings in the upcoming tours.
“There is vast improvement in our game from the first match of the Gold Cup compared to the final,but we have to make our midfield and defence more compact. The Australia series would be a huge confidence booster for the team,” he said.
“We would like to adapt the Australian style of hockey in the coming series.”
Asked about the goals he has set for himself in the coming tours,Sandeep said,”Personally,I would like to work upon my drag-flicks and make them more effective.”
Olympian and ad-hoc selection committee member Ashok Kumar will accompany the team as manager.