What is captain Chetri's role? Pargat Singh asks

Written by: Pargat Singh
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London, Aug 4: The Indian defence stands exposed after just three matches at the Olympic Games. Look at the way the German forwards found and created open spaces inside the circle and you will wonder whatever happened to the defenders.

It was not always the counter-attacks that left the defenders stranded out of place. Frequently, the Indian defenders were reduced to mere spectators as one German striker after another picked up passes from long-range shots deep inside the Indian territory and then moved into the circle effortlessly with no one to challenge them.

India Vs Germany

It was not a pleasing picture. Giving away soft goals continue to be India's bane. A more worrisome aspect is that an Indian outfit continues to turn up for the matches, but without the elements that make a team. The players donning the Indian colours are not putting up a combined show and that is a very sorry situation.

Just a few individual skills are getting showcased, while the team effort does not seem to be in the frame. The scoreline could have been more humiliating than Germany's 5-2 victory in this match. After two listless matches, all Indian hockey lovers were expecting to see some improvement, but very little was visible.

Conceding five goals is one thing. Being relieved that more goals were not scored shows utter deficiency. Look at the way German striker Florian Fuchs, who scored three goals, and Oliver Korn found easy passage into the Indian circle and slotted the balls into the goal.

It seemed odd that playing India, Germany did not seem to It seemed odd that playing India, Germany did not seem to need a serious contribution from star player Christopher Zeller. Germany are determined to prove a point to those berating their chances despite beginning the competition as the reigning Olympic champions.

From India's point of view, a curious aspect in the current outing is the national squad's captaincy. What is captain Bharat Chetri's role if he is not even the first-choice goalkeeper in key matches!

Appointing a goalkeeper as captain and then having a back-up custodian in a 16-member squad when the rest of the world has moved on to select just one goalkeeper presents a very odd scenario. India stands out among the participating teams for including two goalkeepers in the 16-member squad for the London Olympic Games, and still our goal's defence does not seem to be in steady hands.

Leading India is a big honour, but Chetri needs to introspect his position. It seems odd that a player who has not stood in the Indian goal regularly in the past six or seven tournaments is now leading the team which has several players senior to him.

It makes one wonder if the national federation, the selectors and also the coaching staff's knowledge has not been updated! How has this situation been allowed to develop, and what is the reason for India fielding two goalkeepers at the London Olympics.

What needs scrutiny is whether the team's interests have been compromised by the outdated knowledge of personnel involved in crucial matters like the national squad's selection. From its performance, this team does not seem to have been trained physically or mentally for competing against top sides.

And so much money has been spent by the government and the national federation in arranging preparatory camps, participation international tournaments and international staff. What is clearly evident now is that the India team was not fortified to play top-class opposition. Would that only happen after the Olympic Games are over!

(Pargat Singh represented India in three Olympic Games between 1988 and 1996. He is the only man to captain India in two Olympics – at Barcelona '92 and Atlanta '96)

PTI

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