Hockey: Hapless India slammed by former players

8-time winners finish group campaign without a win.

Afp August 08, 2012

NEW DEHLI: India did not deserve to be part of the Olympics field hockey after the eight-time gold medallists were condemned to their poorest finish ever, according to former players.

India lost all five group matches and will take on South Africa for the last two places in the 12-nation competition - lower than their previous worst of eighth position at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“This team did not deserve to be in the Olympics,” said former international Mohammad Shahid. “They have let the whole nation down.”

India, who won their last Olympic hockey gold in 1980, failed to qualify for the Beijing Games four years ago and needed to win a qualifying event at home in New Delhi to make the trip to London. Ranked 10th in the world, India were never serious contenders for the semi-finals, but even skipper and goal-keeper Bharat Chetri was stunned at the total meltdown in the ongoing Games.

“We didn’t play as a team,” said Chetri. “Every match we went down and down. The morale is totally low. We are not defending, neither are we scoring. We have to learn more hockey and improve a lot.”

India’s coach Michael Nobbs, who took over last year, escaped criticism which was mainly directed at the players.

“The players have been given a lot of exposure, they can’t blame anyone for their performance,” said the 1975 World Cup winning captain Ajitpal Singh.

India were the only team in the competition which failed to gain a point, scoring just six goals against 18 conceded.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.