The removal of the Harendra Singh as the head coach of Indian men’s hockey team was a result of poor performance in the Asian Games and World Cup last year.
The Hockey India (HI) High Performance and Development Committee – comprising Chairman RP Singh, Harbinder Singh, BP Govinda and Syed Ali – that met on Monday decided to remove Harendra, just eight months after he was given the job.
“We are the No 1 team in Asia. Yet in the Asian Games, we finished third (after a shock loss to Malaysia in the semi-finals),” RP Singh, the HI High Performance and Development Committee Chairman, told Scroll.in.
“In the Commonwealth Games, we didn’t win a medal. And, you know what happened in the World Cup [India finished sixth],” he added.
India’s lost to Malaysia in the semi-final of the Asian Games and finished with a bronze medal. Four months later at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India bowed out after a 1-2 quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands.
Harendra was the seventh coach appointed by Hockey India for the men’s side in the last nine years. He declined to comment on his ouster from the team.
The committee also recommended Harendra to coach the junior team. In his last tenure with the team, Harendra had won the 2016 Junior World Cup held in Lucknow.
Harendra, as the coach of the Indian women’s team, was asked to swap positions with the then men’s team coach Sjoerd Marijne after the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Both the men’s and women’s team had failed to medal in Gold Coast.
In his first assignment as coach, Harendra guided India to an impressive runners-up finish at the Champions Trophy in Breda. India lost to Australia in the final after a nerve-wracking shootout 1-3 to clinch a second silver medal in the tournament.
The 3-0 whitewash of world number eight New Zealand in the subsequent Test series made India the overwhelming favourites to win the gold medal for the second straight time at the Asian Games.
Despite bulldozing their opponents in the group stage, including eventual gold medallists Japan 8-0, India lost the semi-final against a resilient Malaysian side in sudden death. This shattered the team’s hopes of directly qualifying for the Olympics.
Hockey India was intolerant of this loss and ended Harendra’s tenure as the men’s team coach. The board, however, hasn’t announced his replacement. “Hockey India will shortly be advertising and will invite applications for the position of the Chief Coach,” it said in press release.