Rocky road ahead for Sreejesh, Akashdeep?

Indian hockey’s faith in younger legs is likely to continue with question marks on the future of senior pros like goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Akashdeep Singh with many in Hockey India squarely blaming Sreejesh for the team’s failures at the Asian Games and the World Cup.

Many in Hockey India have squarely blamed P.R. Sreejesh for the team’s failures at the Asian Games and the World Cup   -  K. Murali Kumar

Indian hockey’s faith in younger legs is likely to continue with question marks on the future of senior pros like goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Akashdeep Singh with many in Hockey India squarely blaming Sreejesh for the team’s failures at the Asian Games and the World Cup.

FIH president Narinder Batra, also the president of the Indian Olympic Association, in a social media post said as much. “It was quite obvious in the 2018 World Cup that the teams which did well, besides other things had good and dependable goalkeepers. It's high time Indian team management also starts focussing on this important aspect,” he wrote. The High Performance Committee that decided on a change of coach had also singled out the former captain for the team’s dismal performances.

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The likes of Rupinder Pal Singh, SV Sunil and Birendra Lakra are already out of the team and on notice while Sardar Singh retired after Asian Games.

Coach Harendra Singh, while admitting a drop in performance, has however explained the reasons for the same. “Yes there is decline in PR Sreejesh's performance...What I have observed is that he has trained from time to time under Dave Staniforth...I fail to understand why his services were not utilised after the departure of Roelant Oltmans,” Harendra wrote in his reply to the federation and SAI.

Narinder Batra has also indirectly targeted Akashdeep Singh for indiscipline. [PC: Twitter/TheHockeyIndia]   -  Twitter/TheHockeyIndia

 

“I was told (Staniforth) would come occasionally but he did not. Nothing was discussed. I admit that I did not raise these questions at that time but I thought my job was to work with team and others things including facilities was the responsibility of HI and the High Performance Director,” he told Sportstar.

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He also questioned the decision to keep swapping captains. “There is no excuse for shortcomings on field but everything has to be seen in totality. If you change players’ roles, you must discuss it with them. Players are fragile and whether we like it or not, these things affect their mindset. His father had surgery during World Cup, entire Kerala was ravaged by floods during Asian Games. When you play as a team, you take both wins and losses collectively,” he added.

Batra had also targeted Akashdeep without naming for indiscipline. “Immediately after the end of the quarterfinal match, a senior athlete makes inappropriate remarks at technical table and later on in disciplinary hearing gets a justified 2-match suspension,” he wrote, blaming the coach for covering up facts and the after affects of indiscipline and behaviour issues.