Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey on Monday remained tight-lipped on the future of national men’s team coach Graham Reid after the Indian team was upset in the crossover stage of the ongoing FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup against New Zealand.
With India hosting the elite event in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, there were high expectations from the team to make a deep run in the tournament. However, despite a 3-1 lead, the team was knocked out on penalties by a lower-ranked New Zealand team.
“We will see later. The World Cup is going on and any discussion on that is not appropriate,” Tirkey told PTI about Reid’s future as India coach.
The federation chief, who is a former India captain with 412 international caps, was also concerned about the form of current skipper Harmanpreet Singh. The defender, known for his ferocious drag-flicks, had been tame at the World Cup – he scored just one goal off a penalty corner, but that was against a Wales team that did not have a goalkeeper on the pitch at the time.
“Harmanpreet was doing very well in the FIH Pro League matches and in the (five-match) Australia series just before the World Cup. We had a lot of expectation from him but suddenly dropping form in the World Cup is a matter of concern,” Tirkey added.
“There are also some up and coming drag-flickers in the team. Drag-flickers are very important in modern hockey and we will plan accordingly.
“Ultimately, if we don’t score more goals from penalty corners we will face issues and that was what happened yesterday. The team’s strong point was scoring from penalty corners. We had high expectation from Harmanpreet. But his flicks were not converting into goals, and we saw it from the first match to the last. Not scoring from the PCs hurt the team a lot.”
India started the tournament well with a 2-0 win against Spain and then were held to a goalless draw by England. The 4-2 win over Wales in the third Pool D match was not enough to take them to the top of the group – which would have earned them a direct spot in the quarterfinal. Finishing second meant they had to play a crossover match – effectively a Round of 16 tie – against New Zealand in which the Indian team failed to capitalise on the 10 drag-flicks they earned, scoring just twice.
India lost 4-5 in the following shootout to be relegated to the classification matches. The team faces Japan on January 26.
Moving forward, Reid, in the press conference on Sunday, talked about the need for a mental conditioning coach. Tirkey asserted that it will be provided.
“Whatever the team needs, we are ready to do it. Whatever the coach and the team needed, Hockey India has provided them,” he said.
“Asian Games is very important for us and that is our priority before the Olympics next year,” he added, regarding the next targets.
“Some players are out of the team due to injury, they will come back. Some players might not have performed well due to pressure. We will provide the team with a mental conditioning coach and we will see.”