With an eye on the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Hockey India has roped in former Australia dragflick specialist Chris Ciriello as the analytical coach of the men’s side. Even though his appointment is yet to be officially confirmed by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the 32-year-old Ciriello, the youngest to join the Indian team management, started working with the Indian national side from the New Zealand tour in January.
However, a top Hockey India official has confirmed that Ciriello is already on board and it’s a matter of time that SAI makes the official announcement. “Ciriello started working with the team in the New Zealand tour. He is currently in Bangalore at the national camp. His tenure is till 2020 Olympics. The official announcement about his appointment will be made by the Sports Ministry,” the HI official told PTI.
The official, however, refused to divulge the remuneration of the big-shouldered Australian, nicknamed ‘Big Dog’. When confirmed by the SAI, Ciriello will replace Hans Streeder who quit in September last year following the sacking of chief coach and fellow Dutchman Roelant Oltmans. Ciriello, a fearless defender, shot into limelight in 2014 when he scored hat-tricks in the finals of the World Cup in The Hague and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to guide Australia to two crowns.
It has been learnt that apart from providing inputs to chief coach Sjoerd Marijne, Ciriello will work with Indian dragflickers ahead of the big-ticket events. Ciriello, a regular in the Victorian Vikings domestic team, made his debut for Australia in 2008 and was part of Kookaburras’ CWG winning side of 2010 and 2014. He also has two Champions Trophy gold medals in 2010 and 2012 and World Cup crown in 2014. He was also a part of Australia’s bronze medal winning side in 2012 London Olympics.
Before taking up the India assignment, Ciriello coached a top tier group of young female athletes at the prestigious Southern River Hockey Club, based in the south of Perth, Western Australia.