Former Olympian Gurbux Singh dubbed Monday as the "saddest day for Indian hockey" after the defeat of the national team on Sunday night at the hands of Great Britain that shut the Beijing Olympics door for India.
"This is the saddest day for Indian hockey. I still can't believe that India will not play hockey in the Olympics," Gurbux Singh, who was a member of the Indian national team that won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympics, told IANS.
"However this is not the time for desperation. It is time to regroup," he said.
Great Britain shut the Olympic door on India's face as two quick strikes in the first 10 minutes of the final qualifier game in Chile spelt disaster for the Indian hockey team that will now sit out the Olympic Games for the first time since 1928.
With the Olympic qualification boiling down to one final game Sunday, India failed to rise to the occasion. India had earlier lost to Great Britain 2-3 in the league phase.
A saddened Gurbux Singh said: "Let's not start the blame game. But there were two fatal errors - one was Joaquim Carvalho's insistence of not allowing Ric Charleswoth (technical director of the team) to interfere with the team's planning and composition or allowing him to travel with the team to Australia and Chile."
"The second was omission of some of the senior players like Sandeep Singh and Arjun Halappa who are in fine form.
"But we have to rise from this," said the head coach of the 1976 Indian team that finished seventh in the Olympics.
Asked if pressure did the team in, he said: "We were playing well in Chile but we faulted in the two crunch games against Britain. It mattered."