Updated: January 21, 2015 12:05:20 pm
It’s a sense of deja vu for Michael Nobbs. When he visited India four years ago, roughly during the same time, the national hockey team was without a coach. He was later appointed to the post that he held on for two years, during which he oversaw India’s worst-ever finish at the Olympics. He left these shores disillusioned almost two years ago.
On Tuesday he returned — this time as a representative for an Australia-based artificial turf firm — to the country for the first time since his exit. India are coach-less, once again. Would you be interested in the job, he is asked. “The last time nearly killed me,” Nobbs joked, referring to an illness that he claims was the reason for him to step down.
However, the Australian, said the fact that India has qualified for next year’s Rio Olympics serves as an opportunity for an Indian coach to take charge. “You’ve got no pressure till the Olympics because you’re the first team in the world to qualify. So why not give somebody a chance,” he said. “You’ve been through the tough times and now you’ve got a good set of players. So you can look forward and have a go.”
Nobbs said the likes of current assistant coach Jude Felix, former coaches Harendra Singh and MK Kaushik along with Delhi Wave Riders coach Cedric D’Souza would be ideal for the job.
“It’s just a suggestion. They (Hockey India) are probably not going to take it because they’re gonna pick out a foreign coach. That’s okay as well, nothing wrong with that,” he said.
Under Nobbs, India enjoyed mixed success. After failing to qualify for the Beijing Games, Nobbs ensured India returned to the Olympic fold by guiding the team to London 2012. However, the team could not win even one match, finishing at the bottom of the 12-team competition.
Since that debacle, India has invested a lot in youth development, the result of which will be visible five years down the line. “I’ve bet $1000 with some friends in Pune that by 2020 Olympics, you’ll win a medal. That’s because you’ve got a good bunch coming through the junior team. They’re going to be pretty special group,” he said.
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