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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Hockey

Pressure on Nobbs as boys fail on big stage
Navneet Singh , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 04, 2013
First Published: 01:43 IST(4/7/2013)
Last Updated: 01:45 IST(4/7/2013)

Failures in big events, including last month's sixth-place finish in Rotterdam, the qualifying event for the 2014 World Cup, has forced Hockey India to introspect.

It seems there is growing unrest in the squad over the methods of coach, Michael Nobbs, and the attitude of the Australian has only strengthened the view. "Under Nobbs, the atmosphere is not healthy," a regular member of the national team told HT.

The players have not liked the way Nobbs has criticised them off and on. He had in fact blamed the team for its dismal performance midway through the London Games last year.

Since Nobbs took over two years back, the national team has won low-key events but performed miserably in top-level meets.

Tight-lipped
Federation secretary-general, Narinder Batra, was tight lipped when asked about Nobbs's performance. "It's an internal matter. The federation can't give details on the report card of coaches," was his reply but said a post-mortem on what went wrong in Rotterdam was on but there aren't any conclusions yet.

Batra said this amid reports of former national coach, MK Kaushik, who was sacked as the women's team coach following allegations of sexual harassment but was later absolved, being roped in to assist Nobbs ahead of the Asia Cup, beginning August 24, a competition India have to win to qualify for the World Cup.

No thrust
Over the last two years, there has been no major thrust to improve the bench. There is no genuine backup to goalkeeper P Sreejesh. Similar is the case with the forward line. India are yet to mould a substitute for key striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi, who is recovering from injury. Experts feel this has hurt India the most in big matches.

The federation's director, high performance, since March, Roelant Oltsman, did point this out before the team left for Rotterdam, but definite steps to arrest the slump are yet to be put in place.


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