New Delhi: Former players on Tuesday termed Hockey India's decision to sack Australian coach Michael Nobbs a "step in the right direction" and backed Olympian M K Kaushik to once again take over the reigns of the men's national team.
Captain of India's last World Cup-winning side in 1975, Ajitpal Singh said Nobbs should have been shown the door after the London Olympics debacle last year.
"This sacking should have come much earlier. It is a step in the right direction. We finished 12 out of 12 teams in London which is disturbing and shameful for a hockey playing nation like India, which possess a rich history," the skipper of the World Cup-winning team told PTI.
"He (Nobbs) has not been able to produce results. So, he doesn't deserve to get a longer run.
"The players have also told me in the past that they prefer (Jose) Brasa over Nobbs. Brasa was no doubt a better coach than Nobbs," he added.
Ajitpal welcomed Hockey India's decision to induct Kaushik in the coaching staff of the men's team.
"Kaushik is a good coach. I would welcome his appointment. We have spent a lot on foreign coaches without desired results, so why not we give Kaushik the charge of the team," said Ajitpal, a member of India's bronze-medal winning teams in 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympics.
"He has already proved his credentials as a coach. He coached India to gold medal in 1998 Asia Games in Bangkok," added the Padma Shri awardee.
Former India captain Zafar Iqbal seconded Ajitpal's views.
"Hockey India made the right decision by sacking Nobbs and recommending Kaushik for a coach's post with the team. Under Nobbs the performance of our team has dropped. So question doesn't arise why he should be kept," Zafar said.
"There is hardly any improvement to show."
Zafar also sympathised with Nobbs and said a coach is as good as his players.
"I feel sorry for Nobbs too because may be he did have high quality players at his disposal. A coach has his own limitations," said Zafar, a member of India's last Olympic gold medal side at the 1980 Moscow Games.
Like Ajitpal, Zafar too vouched for Kaushik to fill up Nobbs' shoes.
"We have to believe in Kaushik. He is a good track record as coach. In my opinion we have tried a lot of foreign coaches, but it's time an Indian like Kaushik should be given full charge," he said.
Former national coach Joaquim Carvalho was also critical of Nobbs' performance and said the Australian has hardly done anything worthwhile to galvanise the sagging fortunes of Indian hockey.
"Nobbs is not at all a good coach. A good coach is someone who makes good strategies, possesses good management and communication skills. A good coach is someone who reads the game. But India's performance has gone down drastically under him," he said.
Pargat Singh, who played a key role in Nobbs' appointment as India's chief coach, also welcomed the decision, saying it was high time to give "marching orders" to the under-performing Australian.
Hockey India has sacked Nobbs as the chief coach of the Indian team for non-performance, thus becoming the fourth foreigner to be shown the door before completion of the full tenure.
Nobbs' contract was terminated yesterday, almost three years before it was to expire. Roelant Oltmans, who is currently the High Performance Manager, has been given charge of the team until a new coach is appointed.
Nobbs, who took over the charge in 2011, was offered a five-year contract and a handsome salary, but his association with Indian hockey lasted merely two years and before ending on a bitter note.
Before Nobbs, Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australian Ric Charlesworth and Germany's Gerhard Rach coached the Indian side before being shown the door due to several issues.