New Delhi:Indian hockey team needs a sport psychologist to enhance mental toughness of players and help them continue their fine form in next month's Asian Games, feels former captain Dilip Tirkey.
"India team urgently needs a dietitian and psychologist. Mental toughness is first and foremost need to perform consistently at highest level. Only an expert can instill that among the players," Tirkey said.
"It is also necessary to remain grounded after a win and in the same way recovery cannot be ignored. Our players need to focus on that with the help of a psychologist," added the ace defender, who had led the team in Doha Asian Games four years ago.
Chief coach Jose Brasa also had raised the issue during Delhi CWG, where India finished runner-up after an 8-0 loss to Australia in the final.
Impressed with India's performance in the October 3-14 mega-event, Tirkey hoped that the Indians will finish on the podium in Asian Games, to be held in Guangzhou, China from November 12-27.
"India is playing good aggressive brand of hockey and I think, we can win a medal in Asian Games. Although we have to work on defence and penalty corners, where we are lacking," said Tirkey, who announced retirement earlier this year due to recurring ankle problem.
India had failed to qualify for the medal round of the 15th Asian Games at Doha for the first time in the history of the quadrennial event's history.
A shocking 2-3 defeat to China in the preliminary league, followed by a 1-1 draw against Korea in a must-win match put paid to the Indian hopes of making it to the semifinals.
The win over lower-rated teams, including Malaysia in the four-five classification matches, were no solace to India.
Giving some tips to the India defenders prior to Asian Games, Tirkey said the focus should be on tackling and marking.
"We should focus on tackling and marking. It was painful to see our defenders conceding as much as eighth goals against Australia in the final. All the players are fit and I don't understand what went wrong.
"Defence looked shattered and it is a cause of concern and so is penalty corner. Given the caliber of Sandeep Singh our conversion rate could have been better," he added.
He also sought inclusion of experienced forward Prabhjot Singh and defender Ignace Tirkey in the China-bound squad.
"Coach Brasa emphasized a lot on substitutions. Prabhjot and Ignace can be fitted in his scheme of things. They are vastly experienced and that cannot be ignored," said Tirkey.
Asked about Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf's claim to avenge the CWG defeat in Asian Games, Tirkey felt the Rajpal Singh-led team is far better than their arch-rivals at this moment.
"People claim but ultimately performance matters. India is a better team than Pakistan as far as technique, fitness and performance is concerned. But we must avoid complacency after winning last two encounters against the arch-rivals," he said.