Ipoh, Malaysia: He is still unsure whether he will continue if given a longer run, but goalkeeping coach Dave Staniforth has set his goals clear -- to try and make Indian custodians the best in the world in this short period of time.
The 37-year-old former South African hockey player was appointed as the goalkeeping coach and strategic analyst of India's senior and junior men's teams only last month and has been given a short-term contract till the FIH Junior World Cup to be held in New Delhi later this year.
But having already worked in India with the inaugural Hockey India League champions Ranchi Rhinos, Staniforth is quite familiar with the goalkeeping scenario in the country and has set his priorities clear.
"It's too early for me. I just started working with the Indian team 6 weeks back, but my goals are clear. My primary goal is to make sure that our goalkeepers are playing to the level we want them to play, make sure that our goalkeepers are keeping the ball out of the back of the net," Staniforth told PTI in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing ninth Asia Cup here.
The South African is already impressed with the talents he had witnessed so far in the country.
"No doubt that there is some talent. It's just a case of harnessing these talents and making sure that they are going in the right direction, changing some simple things so that we can bring out the best in every goalkeeper," Staniforth observed.
"From what I have seen there is certainly some potential. It's just a case of harnessing that potential. I have seen four U-21 goalkeepers and they have impressed me," he said.
Indian goalkeepers have always rued the lack of goalkeeping specialists. But, it seems Staniforth's presence in the support staff has already started to pay dividends as P R Sreejesh produced a stellar performance under the bar to help India stun defending champions South Korea in their second match at the Asia Cup here.
Asked about Sreejesh, Staniforth just had one thing to say -- "he is a really good goalkeeper".
"He is a good goalkeeper. He also knows that he is a good goalkeeper. But he needs to keep his feet in the ground. He has set himself very high standards," said Staniforth, who represented his country in 65 internationals and has worked as goalkeeping coach with the South African national side for three years.
He, however, doesn't like to compare a player with another. So when asked to rate Sreejesh in the world alongside the likes of Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann, Staniforth simpy refused.
"It would be unfair to compare any goalkeeper against another. All I say is that my job is to make sure that he (Sreejesh) is playing to his potential," he said.
Staniforth's short stint with India ends after the Junior World Cup to be held in New Delhi from December 6-13, but the South African still has not made up his mind whether he will continue if given a longer run.
"I don't know what will happen in future. I am only bothered about my job at hand and currently it is Asia Cup. I am not thinking about anything other than the Asia Cup right now," said Staniforth, who has represented South Africa in the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, 10th FIH Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2002 and eighth All Africa Games in Nigeria 2003.