Indian hockey team should get rid of inconsistency fast to excel on world stage: Jagbir Singh
At the sidelines of the Hockey World League Final (HWLF), former Indian hockey team player Jagbir Singh said Indians should not ease off through the match and must keep trying till the final hooterother sports Updated: Dec 01, 2017 18:06 IST
In last one year, Indian hockey has had several achievements, winning silver in the Champions Trophy, gold at the Junior Men’s World Cup and a top-place finish in the Asia Cup, but inconsistency at the international level has been a worrying factor for former centre-forward Jagbir Singh, who wants a quick solution to the problem.
“This (inconsistency) is the biggest problem of Indian hockey for the last many years. One day we beat the world’s top team, and the other day we lose to a lower-ranked side,” Jagbir told Hindustan Times ahead of India’s opener against Australia in the Hockey World League Final at the Kalinga Stadium, on Friday.
Jagbir, who remained the Indian team’s mainstay from 1985-95 and played two Olympic Games, felt that the problem of inconsistency wasn’t because of tactical or technical shortcomings, but “it is somewhere in the minds of the players”. “They need to eradicate it as soon as possible. I am not looking for a gold medal immediately, but the present set of players has the ability to grab it soon, considering the factors I have mentioned earlier.”
Described as a ‘striking-circle assassin’ during his playing days, the fleet-footed Jagbir also wants the team to prepare thoroughly for specific events next year as there are plenty in 2018, such as the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup and Olympics qualifying.
“We need to identify key tournaments out of these four and focus on them only as you can’t perform in all events. Target the events first and plan accordingly. Only this strategy will give the team success at the world level,” said Jagbir, adding, “My suggestions is not to be bothered by what people, including fans and officials, say. Just focus on your performance.”
He also suggested that the Indians should keep trying till the final whistle. “Inconsistency in the dying minutes should be avoided and our players should keep trying hard till the final whistle.”
Unlike others, Jagbir praised the format of the HWL Final where all eight teams get to play in the quarter-finals after completing their league engagements. “The format is most suited for teams like India and Pakistan, who weren’t playing (read couldn’t qualify) in the quarter-finals at world-level events for the last many years.
“Here you (can) try as many combinations as you want and remain in contention for a medal even after losing all three league matches. India’s podium finish at the 2015 event is example of that. I love this format and believe India can once again hope for a podium finish here.”