Marcellus Gomes: Olympic qualifiers first major challenge for Graham Reid

For Graham Reid, as the new head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team, ensuring qualification for the Olympics in 2020 will be “the most important thing,” according to Gomes, the former hockey Olympian.

Graham Reid is expected to be handed a contract that extends till the 2022 Hockey World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

The qualifiers for the Olympic Games in 2020 will be the first major challenge for Graham Reid as the new head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team, according to Marcellus Gomes, the former hockey Olympian.

Reid, from Australia, is set to take over the reigns of the team following the exit of Harendra Singh.

“The most important thing for him is to ensure that the team qualifies [for the Olympics in 2020] and the qualifying round is important,” Gomes said after the inauguration of a synthetic hockey turf as the Don Bosco school here.

‘Australian style of play’

With Reid at the helm, the Australian style of play could come into effect, which may help the national team, according to M. M. Somaya, Gomes’ former colleague in the Mahindra team and a former India captain who won the gold-medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. “Graham Reid is an experienced coach and he will probably get some of the Australian style of play and that (could be) beneficial,” Somaya said.

Somaya outlined two major focus areas for the team — the need for improving the “conversion rate” of penalty corners, and for improving precision “on the last pass.”

Gomes felt Reid would need to adapt to the Asian style of play. “[Reid] will have to get used to the [style of play] as he has never coached an Indian team or a team from Asia,” Gomes said.

After the turf’s inauguration in the school, an exhibition match between former international stars and the Don Bosco team was also played. The young players got a chance to rub their shoulders with the likes of Dronacharya award winning coach Clarence Lobo and four-time Olympian Dhanraj Pillai, among others.

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