Tuesday to unfold battle between two high-profile coaches
India's World Cup battle against Australia on Tuesday will not only be played on the field but also in the minds of the master coaches of the two countries, Jose Brasa and Ric Charlesworth.Updated: Mar 01, 2010, 20:21 IST
India's World Cup battle against Australia on Tuesday will not only be played on the field but also in the minds of the master coaches of the two countries, Jose Brasa and Ric Charlesworth.
The common link between Brasa and Charlesworth is their association with Indian hockey to revive the eight-time Olympic winners' golden days.
Australian Charlesworth's stint as technical adviser lasted only a year. He quit in 2008, unable to find his way through the bureaucratic hurdles in India. In contrast, Spaniard Brasa seems to be gifted with a dogged determination which has kept him going till date.
Brasa, who coached the Spanish women's team to a top podium finish in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, took over the reins of the Indian team after Charlesworth left and also consulted the Australian before coming to India.
"When I came to India I knew there will be obstacles. I have told my players that we will have to cross every hurdle and look at the positive side. I am here to learn," Brasa would always say.
Ten months into the job and Brasa has learned to rough it out in the Indian system. Though, the occasional anguish does show up.
The emphatic victory against Pakistan must have bolstered the Spaniard. For 10 months Brasa has gone about his task quietly, fine tuning the players' skills and trying to blend the Indians' traditional style with European finesse. The players found it difficult to adjust initially, but are now at home with Brasa's methods.
It was certainly a transformed Indian side on display against Pakistan Sunday night. They showed speed and moved around the turf fluently. More importantly, they played with a professional approach and stuck to the gameplan decided by their coach.
"Brasa's emphasis on getting the fundamentals right helped. You could see against Pakistan, the players got right the basics like timely delivery of the ball, positional delivery of the ball. You could do so many things with the ball but you have to release it quickly," former India international Ashok Kumar told IANS.
"The players were also moving freely. They were helping each other and there was a team spirit, which is a healthy sign."
"I am happy that Brasa has shown faith in players like Bharat Chikara when no other coach was willing to put his faith in him. See how Chikara played yesterday, not allowing the Pakistani forwards to move freely and at the same time, also playing his game," he said.
Charlesworth, who coached his national side to Champions trophy victory last year, may have had a bad day in office Sunday as title contenders Australia lost to England but make no mistake that he will make all the necessary moves to bring his team back in the reckoning.
"Australia lost the first match. Charlesworth will try to do something new and better," warns former India captain Zafar Iqbal.
Zafar points out the difference in style between the two coaches.
"Brasa believes in the Eoropean style while Charlesworth believes in the traditional formation. Look at Australia. They are playing in the same formation in which we used to play earlier," Zafar told IANS.
When India visited Australia a year ago, they were beaten by the Australian developmental squad coached by Charlesworth.
Tuesday's clash will be the two sides' first meeting at a major tournament for a year. Even Charlesworth concedes he cannot predict much about the Indian side.
"I can't say. We haven't played them in a while. I haven't even seen them play for sometime now," said Charlesworth after his team's loss Sunday and before going to study India in their match against Pakistan.
"India is a good team. But we've been in such situations before. There are no real surprises in international hockey."