Indian hockey team's assistant coach Mohammed Riaz has warned that heads will roll after country's disastrous campaign in the London Games ended on Saturday with a humiliating bottom spot finish out of 12 competing nations.
"If the senior players are not able to perform, perhaps
it is time for them to move on," said Riaz after India were beaten 2-3 by South Africa in the 11-12th place classification match, thus suffering their sixth straight loss in the competition at the Riverbank Arena here.
"We had a very bad tournament. We build pressure on ourselves by repeatedly missing chances in all matches. The boys were mentally down and the team's morale was low as one defeat followed another," added the Olympian.
Riaz said that a time has come for the coaches and selectors to take a decision on whether some senior players are required to be in the Indian squad.
"We have to take a call if the senior players should go on," Riaz said without taking names of any specific player.
India were hoping to avoid the wooden spoon, which they had done in the 2006 World Cup at Monchengladbach, Germany in the play-off for the 11th-12th positions between the same two teams.
India's previous lowest finish at the Olympics was the eighth position in the 1996 Olympic Games at Atlanta.
Riaz said fitness was crucial in tournaments of this magnitude, for which players and teams across the world prepare for years.
"Fitness is of utmost importance at world events like the Olympic Games. We kept senior players in the squad for their experience. At such events, experience is of vital importance and fielding just a young lot was not a very good idea," said Riaz, a half-back in the Indian team of the 1990s.
Speaking from personal experience of representing India in the Olympic Games, he said the Olympics were quite different to other international tournaments in which India had done well recently.
"It is easier to play in international tournaments like the Azlan Shah Cup and even the Asian events, but the Olympics present a different challenge."
He said the Indian strikers continued to miss chances in every game.
South Africa today utilised the gaps in the Indian defence to score through Andrew Cronje (eighth minute), Timothy Drummond (34th) and Lloyd Norris-Jones (66th).
India, who were always chasing the South African lead, managed to score two goals through Sandeep Singh (14th) and Dharamvir Singh (67th), but it was not enough to salvage anything from the debacle.