Uncertainty continues over Marijne’s future

An informal meeting was supposed to have been held but any formal decision on the future of men's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne has been delayed for now.

Marijne’s role had been under the scanner ever since India's disappointing fourth-place finish at Gold Coast and several senior players questioning his methods and selections.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Uncertainty continued in Hockey India on Saturday with the high-powered post-Commonwealth Games performance review meeting, supposed to be held in New Delhi, remaining unclear in the absence of several key officials and a formal review of the teams with the Sports Authority of India yet to be scheduled.

An informal meeting was supposed to have been held but any formal decision on the future of men's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne has been delayed for now. Senior federation sources insisted that Marijne’s passport had expired and he was waiting for a new one with the requisite work visa. He is likely to be delayed by at least another 10 days before joining the national camp starting in Bengaluru on Monday.

While that in itself does not guarantee he would continue in the job, it does, however, mean that the Dutchman has received some respite from the intense scrutiny and would return to India at least once. Five of the 10 members in HI’s High Performance and Development Committee were not present in the city on Saturday.

Marijne’s role had been under the scanner ever since India's disappointing fourth-place finish at Gold Coast and several senior players questioning his methods and selections. But in the absence of any unanimity the Dutchman, handling a senior men's side for the first time ever, might just get one more chance. However, in case he is removed and Harendra Singh given charge of the men's side, former women's coach CR Kumar's name is doing the rounds to be given the job.

Any decision, however, would be taken only after the approval of SAI, which technically employs Marijne and pays his salary. A similar situation had arisen when Roelant Oltmans had been sacked with SAI not playing ball for a new foreign coach. A meeting with SAI was earlier scheduled to be held on Monday but with felicitations for CWG winners by the PM and the President planned, that too remains uncomfirmed.

Hockey India would also be constrained by the fact that, with half the Olympic cycle over, most of the top coaches in the world are already taken and firmly in their jobs even as the number of changes seen by Indian hockey in the last few years severely limits the available pool of proven coaches.

Marijne, however, may still not be completely off the hook. The team's performances would remain under close scrutiny and a poor outing at the Champions Trophy in June may well be the last straw. That is, if he continues to be in the hot seat till then.

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