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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

A missed opportunity

Hockey player Sardar Singh ruminates on what possibly went wrong at the India v/s Netherlands quarter finals.

brand-stories Updated: Dec 14, 2018 12:27 IST
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Netherlands beat India 2-1 at the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup.
Netherlands beat India 2-1 at the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup.(Odisha government)

When I started playing hockey, India was not among the top 10 teams. However, with a lot of hard work, we reached the 5th spot. So, at the World Cup, it was expected that the team would claim the 4th position. The players had worked hard, and it was sad to see that after all that, we didn’t quite make it.

The issue is that at every tournament, we change coaches and players, and I believe if the core team would have been retained, then the result would have been quite different from what we saw yesterday at the India v/s Netherlands quarter finals.

While watching the match, I also felt that I should have been on the ground. I had stopped watching hockey when I was dropped for the Commonwealth Games; it wasn’t a good feeling. The same emotions were going through me at the Kalinga Stadium yesterday. I feel a few experienced players should have been there.

At the last World Cup, we had a young team. Since then, the team has seen a lot of changes. That group should have been retained as they also had won the 2014 Asian Games Gold. Players have to be nurtured and given a chance at important tournaments.

I feel experience always counts when it comes to sports. It is an intrinsic part of good teams. Look at the Dutch captain Billy Bakker. He no longer plays with the same pace, but controls the game and in the 3rd and 4th quarters; he was the main man for Holland and took the game away from us by holding the midfield. That was the difference.

I did feel the forwards could have done more. The ball carriers didn’t have the pressure. And I felt that the communication wasn’t up to the mark. Normally, the defenders give it to the midfield, and then the forwards come into play. That communication was missing yesterday. It will take another four years for a World Cup to come around, and, hopefully, we can take this team there and not have wholesale changes that we see every time.

This article has been authored by Sardar Singh, who was the youngest player to captain the Indian hockey team when he led the side at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

First Published: Dec 14, 2018 12:26 IST