Former captain Dilip Tirkey on Sunday said that India missed a golden chance to rewrite history in the just-concluded Hockey World Cup and stressed on the need to develop world class drag-flickers.
In the absence of Rupinder Pal Singh, India had three drag-flickers in young Harmanpreet, Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar but their conversion rate was poor, recording just 30.7 per cent. India failed to convert three of the five penalty corners they got in their 5-0 mauling of South Africa in their World Cup opener in Bhubaneswar last month.
“We need to have world class flickers. We presently have Harmanpreet, Amit Rohidas and Varun. We have to pay focus on them. We have to have a 60-70 per cent conversion rates in important matches,” Tirkey said on the sidelines of the Beighton Cup hockey tournament here.
Having topped their pool featuring eventual champions Belgium, the hosts made a quarterfinal exit, going down to the Netherlands 1-2 in the World Cup. Tirkey said the youngsters failed to live up to the expectations against the Netherlands as they missed a golden chance to win the World Cup.
“I feel our youngsters could not play as per their standards. Otherwise team’s performance was very good. There was some good tackling. It’s bad luck that we could not live up to the expectations in the quarter-final. Overall it was a good show. I feel we missed the World Cup,” he said.
“After a long time, we saw development in Indian hockey team. With a lot of talented youngsters, we looked fit. We drew with Belgium in the league stages,” he said referring to their 2-2 draw against the champions.
He further said India coach Harendra Singh was doing a fine job. “Harendra Singh is doing extremely well with team. We lost to Australia in the shoot-out (in the Champions Trophy). It was an impressive show (at the World Cup).
“All the foreign coaches have their contribution for the Indian team but as of now, Harendra Singh is the best coach for the Indian team. We need to work on this Indian team,” he said hailing the 2016 Junior World Cup winning coach.
“The coach has done well. Definitely there has been a development in the standards of coaching.”
Tirkey further lavished praise on the Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government for hosting a successful World Cup. “It was a grand success. Stars of every field be it in sport or glamour world were involved in making of the tournament. It’s time that everyone including the corporate sector to come forward and support hockey,” he concluded.