Foreign coach Jose Brasa, whose contract with the Sports Ministry was till Asian Games, never wanted Rajpal Singh as the captain of the Indian team and did his best to get him removed, a national selector confirmed to HT.
When Hockey India overruled Brasa and named the player from Chandigarh as skipper for the World Cup, Brasa at times did not even include Rajpal in the starting line-up. The issue was reported first by Hindustan Times on March 13 under the headline 'Team trouble: Divided & making it known'.
Even after the World Cup, Brasa continued with his attempts to get Rajpal out. He mailed a letter to Hockey India just before the team's European tour in June-July, demanding that Arjun Halappa be named captain instead of Rajpal. Interestingly, Halappa was not even in the side for the European tour.
"Brasa has always opposed Rajpal being named captain and he never used to like him. He always wanted that the selection committee should remove him," said national selector Col Balbir Singh.
"If the coach wants unity in the team then he should give due respect to the captain and to all members. If the coach doesn't like the captain then what can you expect from the other players? Brasa failed to keep the team together. Rajpal's conduct was good and he played really well in the Asian Games. If Brasa would have consulted Rajpal then the team would have performed even better," added Col Balbir.
After the Asian Games Rajpal had decided to quit as captain as reported first by HT. (Powerless Rajpal to give up captainship: November 17.)
Rajpal had decided to quite as he was not given any authority and he remained a captain who just went out for the toss.
"I have no authority to interfere in any matter of the team," Rajpal had told HT after the semifinal loss against Malaysia.
"The way Brasa had treated him over the captainship issue, Rajpal was afraid that the next coach too might do the same. So he decided to resign," said a senior player.
When contacted Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said, "I am reaching Delhi tomorrow and will talk to Rajpal about the entire issue. Before that it's not appropriate for me to comment on the issue."