Hockey selectors to blame for performance: Experts

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Former players and experts feel that the current selection policy is at fault for the hockey team's dismal performance.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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New Delhi:

The Indian hockey team's dismal performance in the recently concluded four nations tournament in Holland has sparked of a lot of debate amongst former players and experts. Most of them feel that the current selection policy is at fault. India lost all its games in the tournament and conceded 17 goals, a disastrous campaign just weeks before the Athens Olympics. That prompted the Indian Hockey Federation to sack assistant coaches M R Negi and Harinder Singh bringing in former Olympian Jagbir Singh in their place. However former Olympians and hockey players are of the opinion that such frequent changes do more harm than good to the game and the team morale. "Frequent chopping and changing can be very harmful considering that Olympics are very near. If we send a new batch of players, who have not had much experience on the big stage, then they are bound to face a lot of problems," said Mohammad Shahid, former Olympian. Most experts are unanimous in the belief that it was bad goalkeeping and a poor penalty conversion rate that led to India's defeat. "We don't have any penalty corner expert in our team right now. Without penalty corner expert nowadays, we always presume as if only half the team playing in any competition. Drag flick is one weapon that almost every team should have because these days almost every team is trying to score through that and field goals," said Zafar Iqbal, former Olympian. "There are a lot of changes in the team. There are a lot of rotation of goalkeepers and also not only the goalkeepers, but the full backs and the half backs are being rotated so much that there is no coordination between our goalkeepers and our deep defenders which is very vital," said Ashsih Ballal, former goalkeeper. The last time the Indian hockey team won an Olympic gold was at the Moscow Games in 1980. It's been 24 years since the team brought home any Olympic medal. What the team needs to do now is focus on tackling their weaknesses and developing their strengths, something, which can be tried at the four-nation tournament in Dusseldorf starting on July 16.

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