Hockey India secy-gen misled nation, says ex-coach Carvalho

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Joaquim Carvalho
New Delhi, Aug 7: Former Indian hockey player and coach of the national hockey team Joaquim Carvalho has slammed the secretary-general of Hockey India, Narinder Batra, for misleading the countrymen in disallowing players who took part in the rebel World Series Hockey (WSH) to take part in the London Games.

"Batra said the International Hockey Federation (FIH) would not allow WSH players at the Olympics. But then how some of the Pakistani players, who also played in the WSH, like Rehan Butt, are playing in the London Games?," Carvalho asked, adding that he would want Batra to resign for misleading the nation.

The Arjuna Award winner vented his anger against Batra soon after India lost their fourth consecutive match at the London Games on Sunday. It has been the worst Olympics for the eight-time winners as they have failed to earn a single point so far and will play for the 11th-12th position in a tournament comprising 12 teams.

Carvalho, who was the coach when India failed to qualify for the Olympics four years ago, the first time since 1928, and quit after the debacle said Batra had asked for his head that time. "Now, it is my turn to ask him to resign for his vindictive attitude towards the WSH players and misleading the country on the issue," he said.

Carvalho said WSH players like Arjun Halappa, Prabhjot Singh and Rajpal Singh had still some hockey left in them and it was a great mistake that India did not include them in their squad. "Olympics is not a kid's party and the pressure is huge right from the word go," said Carvalho, who was a member of the Indian hockey team that played in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. He said Pakistan brought back veterans like Butt, Wasim Ahmed and Shakeel Abbasi after they paid a fine to their federation for appearing in the WSH. The Pakistanis have been playing good hockey and beat teams like Argentina and South Africa and were hopeful of making the semifinals since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Carvalho praised the Pakistanis and said they always troubled the Australians. He recalled how the Pakistanis had beaten Australia in the 1984 Games and went on to win the gold.

On Batra's explanation that the FIH did not allow the WSH players, Carvalho said the world hockey body had announced that those players who had only signed up for the WSH before March 31, 2011, could play for their country at the Games. Carvalho said while the FIH stuck to their stand, Batra misled the nation.

The former coach did not spare the Indian players either. He slammed penalty-corner specialist Sandeep Singh, saying he did the right thing by dropping the drag-flicker when he was the coach. "He has played miserably. He can only score against weaker teams," the former coach said, adding that there was a big uproar when he dropped him. Sandeep, who said he was looking forward to score in every match, has succeeded in netting a ball just once in four matches, against New Zealand. His failure has cost the team dearly.

The former left-back supported the view of current coach Michael Nobbs, who said the Indian players wee more than happy in making the Olympics after missing out on the Beijing Games four years ago.


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