Former Olympian blames weak defence for hockey debacle

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New Delhi, Mar 10 (UNI) Former Olympian and coach Hardayal Singh today lamented India's 0-2 loss to Britain in the final of the Olympic qualifiers and said, ''it was weak defence that resulted in a very sad day for Indian hockey''.

Hardayal Singh was the chief coach of the Indian hockey team between 1982 to 1987 and said the present coach Joaquim Carvalho, who was the captain during that period, should not be held responsible for India's poor outing today.

''I do not blame the coach, he himself must have felt disgusted and there are a few weak players in Indian defence,'' Singh told UNI over the phone.

The 2004 Dhyan Chand Award winner said,''the coach should be given a free hand in the selection because it is he who knows the players better.'' Hardayal Singh was the member of team which defeated Pakistan in the final of the 1964 Olympics to win the gold medal for the country.

He resigned in 1987 as the coach and blamed departmental pressures for his ouster. ''They wanted some non-deserving players to be included in the team which I could not take.'' He also advised the players to play as a team. ''Hockey is a team game, you need intelligence along with skills and unfortunately this team lacks in both the areas.'' He also added that the Sports Ministry has not been funding game properly and brought out the example of BCCI which looks after it's players well even after their retirement.

''How much money does the (sports) ministry spend on sports? We were paid only Rs 2,500 as pension and it has been just two-three that they have increased it to Rs 5,000.'' ''I wrote to the Prime Minister and President of India in which I mentioned that all the players who have represented India should be treated equally irrespective of which game they play.

He also suggested that Indian Hockey Federation should advertise for the coach of the national side. A selection committee comprising of former players should then be invited to narrow down to one coach depending on his expertise and presentations.

UNI RAR AB ND2106

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