Things just don’t seem to be getting better for the Indian men’s hockey team. Six players tested positive on resumption of national camp in Bengaluru earlier this month. Goalkeeper Suraj Karkera was hospitalised for malaria. High Performance Director David John resigned amidst speculation. And now, analytical coach Chris Ciriello is unsure of resuming duty because of health reasons, adding to Hockey India's concerns.
While Ciriello left last month with his wife Heide due to visa issues, it is now learnt he has sought medical advice for a serious health condition that will delay his return.
In fact, he is expected to consult doctors back home about the possible course of treatment and will only then decide on rejoining the Indian team. His visa issues, though, have been worked out.
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In case the prognosis forces him to remain in Australia, Hockey India will be forced to seek a replacement, racing against time with less than a year left for the Tokyo Olympics. The former World Cup winner and Olympic bronze medallist has been with the Indian team since 2018 and was an important link between players and coach Graham Reid.
Meanwhile, the Sports Authority of India on Tuesday confirmed it had accepted John’s resignation. John had resigned on August 18 and while Hockey India had accepted the resignation immediately, a final decision had to be taken by SAI who employed him.
“The Sports Authority of India has accepted the resignation of David John, who was employed as High Performance Director at Hockey India. John resigned on August 18, 2020, with immediate effect, through an email to Sports Authority of India and Hockey India. He resigned citing concern for his personal health in the current Covid-19 situation in India, and has expressed his desire to go back to Australia. John had a contract with SAI till September 2021,” SAI said in a statement.
John, among the highest-paid foreign experts in Indian sports, has remained incommunicado since then amidst speculation on reasons for his quitting. Hockey India said it would be actively looking for a replacement once SAI gives the go-ahead.