Hockey team manager, Col Balbir Singh's scathing report on the Azlan Shah Cup debacle submitted to Hockey India evoked sharp reactions from players participating in the ongoing Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup here.
The players attributed the poor show in Ipoh, Malaysia, more to the dearth of resources than fitness levels, which was questioned by Singh in his report.
As reported in HT, the manager in his report said the team could not last beyond 35 minutes and conceded a number of goals in the second half due to fatigue and poor clearance.
Forward Shivendra Singh defended his teammates saying he has not noticed any fatigue in them during the tournament.
"We probably ran out of substitutes. Though we had two forwards for replacement, but one of our reliable defenders, Diwakar Ram, was injured and that eventually made our defence weak," he said.
Shivendra said it was unfair to compare Indian players with their Australian and Korean counterparts, "They have more advanced equipment, support staff and technology at their disposal but we still lag behind in those areas."
Arjun Halappa, who led the team, said, "I am not aware of the team manager's report, but I don't think the players were unfit. We could have played better but one cannot attribute the debacle to poor fitness levels alone as there were other aspects too."
HI president, Mariamma Koshy, said video footage of the tournament were being analysed to check the veracity of the manager's report. "The report is with me and we are holding a meeting of the executive committee in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss it," she said.
Speaking on the issue of hiring a foreign coach, the HI president said that a few names were under consideration but preference would be given to the youngest candidate.
Meanwhile, HI has decided to constitute a committee, headed by former India captain Pargat Singh, to spot a foreign coach.