The ache of not going previous the quarterfinals in 2018 continues to be there inside Harendra, and it flared up when he witnessed India giving it away within the crossover match on January 22 this time and succumbing to the strain exerted by New Zealand, who held their nerve higher within the sudden loss of life shootout to win 5-4 and push India out of title competition.
Harendra, who lives in California at the moment, was essential of what he noticed from the stands of the Kalinga Stadium. India let a two-goal benefit slip twice when main 2-0 and 3-1, which allowed the Black Sticks to not simply come again but additionally wrest management of the sport earlier than getting into the quarterfinals.
Hockey World Cup: All that went flawed for India
Speaking to TimesofIndia.com for an in-depth evaluation of India’s sorry marketing campaign, Harendra raised some razor-sharp questions.
How does it really feel to be again on dwelling soil and particularly Bhubaneswar the place you may have made a number of reminiscences?
It is a privilege to be again right here at this iconic (Kalinga) stadium. Any coach that comes right here will get the goosebumps as a result of individuals right here know their hockey.
How lengthy has it been since your final go to right here?
After 2018, it is my first time right here. After all, because the final one and a half years I’ve moved to the US. However I am unable to be away from Bhubaneswar relating to hockey.
Like so many Indian followers, you too will need to have been upset to see India not making it to the quarterfinals…
In case you ask me, 1.5 billion individuals are upset as a result of we had created momentum, I’d say, from the 2018 Champions Trophy (silver medal) and carried it until the Tokyo Olympics (bronze medal). However someplace after that we misplaced that momentum. We should not have fallen into the opponent’s (New Zealand) lure. However we did and paid the value for it within the pre-quarterfinals (crossovers).
Hockey World Cup: Blended response from followers after India didn’t qualify for quarters
The place do you suppose we fell brief towards New Zealand?
I feel there are a number of areas. We gained an Olympic medal in Tokyo after 41 years. That was historic. However your cycle for the subsequent Olympics begins the very subsequent day. Once I noticed the Indian workforce that was introduced for this World Cup, I used to be sceptical as a result of the gamers who can win you video games and maintain the workforce (collectively) had been lacking. We felt it not simply towards New Zealand however in your entire match.
Two of the heroes of the 2016 Junior World Cup triumph, if you had been the workforce’s coach, had been Simranjeet Singh and Gurjant Singh. Each had been ignored for this World Cup. In truth, Simranjeet had revived India’s Tokyo Olympics marketing campaign as nicely after the 7-1 defeat towards Australia. Did we miss them?
We missed gamers like Simranjeet, Sumit, Gurjant, Jugraj rather a lot. All people is speaking about captain Harmanpreet Singh not being in type (on drag-flicks). I do not blame him. Earlier, he shared the accountability (of taking penalty corners) with Rupinder Pal Singh (now retired). Right here, that poor chap alone had that complete accountability on his shoulders. We made a flawed choice by appointing him the captain. He takes the penalty corners, he has to do the outletting, play a job in assault and likewise I used to be shocked to see him within the shootout (towards New Zealand). If somebody like Jugraj would have been within the workforce when Harmanpreet’s drag-flicks weren’t working, then the coach might have tried Jugraj. And if he had scored a few targets, then Harmanpreet would have felt higher. As an outsider and observer, I consider these combos had been lacking. It was evident that Harmanpreet was (feeling the strain) on the pitch. I’ve by no means seen Harmanpreet arguing with the umpires, claiming each ball. He’s such a cool buyer.
Have been you shocked to see 4 children — Sukhjeet Singh, Rajkumar Pal, Abhishek and Shamsher Singh — being requested to take the shootout as a substitute of a few of the skilled gamers like Manpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh?
It isn’t about choosing the flawed mixture. If you practice, you determine which will likely be these 5 gamers. The coach positively performs an enormous function. However for what do you may have senior gamers with 250, 300, 400 caps? That is the time when you must step up and take accountability. I used to be shocked that gamers like Manpreet and Akashdeep weren’t picked (for the shootout) or possibly they refused, we do not find out about that. However this was the time when Akashdeep, Manpreet, Mandeep and even Lalit (ought to have taken the accountability). In case you mix the caps of those 4 gamers, it is near 1000. That is huge. So, strain did play a job. As a coach, I do not settle for this stuff. If you find yourself a senior, play the function of a senior.
The workforce wilted beneath strain within the final quarter towards New Zealand. Do you suppose this workforce wants a psychological coach to deal with such conditions?
There was a number of debate over this earlier than as nicely…generally it really works, generally not. It is about decision-making. We weren’t making the best choices. We had been up 3-1, then New Zealand had been all the way down to 10 males (within the final six minutes), however even then it was whole management of New Zealand. How is that potential? Which means we have now to work on our defence. Each second cross we had been shedding; and everytime they had been getting the ball, they went for the vertical (aerial balls). So what ought to we have now accomplished? We must always have held onto the ball of their half somewhat than in our half. After all, Graham Reid is a seasoned coach. He will need to have stated this stuff. However why was there no Plan B? The workforce has to reply a number of questions
The place does the workforce go from right here, since you most likely won’t see gamers like PR Sreejesh and Manpreet on the subsequent World Cup in 2026?
I consider the children ought to take their possibilities. Let’s be very essential. This was the most effective alternative for them. They need to have stepped up and delivered. I’m not saying they haven’t delivered however my expectation was greater than what they’ve delivered. My recommendation can be to not go for a ‘main surgical procedure’; we simply require minor fixes and may keep centered on the Asian Video games. That is crucial. In case you miss (Olympic qualification from) the Asian Video games, will probably be very onerous for Paris 2024.
What would your inputs be if you happen to had been requested for solutions after this World Cup fiasco?
The gamers who’re out of the system must be introduced again in and given one other likelihood so that there’s wholesome competitors inside the group. There is no such thing as a competitors in any respect if in case you have simply 24-25 (gamers). Who’re the gamers which can be going to pose a problem? It is solely gamers like Simranjeet. Additionally, spend money on the juniors. The place are the 18 gamers we picked for the 2021 Junior World Cup? (just one from amongst these 18, Vivek Sagar Prasad, is within the present World Cup squad). Both these gamers had been wrongly chosen or they weren’t saved within the system. So anyone must be accountable for this. It is a course of, not on the spot espresso.