With the all-important Asia Cup round the corner, Hockey India is all set to hire a specialist foreign goalkeeping coach for the Indian men's team ahead of the August 24 to September 1 event in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra confirmed that that they are in look out for a foreign expert to work with Indian goalkeepers on short-term basis.
"Yes, we are searching for a goalkeeping coach to work with our men's team. We are looking for a specialist from abroad. We have shortlisted three candidates and whosoever out of them is affordable and acceptable will be appointed within two to three days," Batra told PTI.
"The person who fits best in our scheme of things and whose terms and conditions are acceptable to us will be appointed. He will be under Hockey India's payroll but we will have to take SAI's approval," he said.
Unlike other foreign experts, the goalkeeping coach will be appointed for a short tenure, to be precise for the upcoming Asia Cup and the Junior World Cup to be held in the Capital from December 6-15 this year.
"The arrangement will be on a short-term basis. But depending on our requirement and his performance, the coach may be roped in to work with the team for important future tournaments," Batra said.
Batra, however, refused to divulge the names of the candidates doing the rounds but, according to HI sources, South Africa's Dave Staniforth is the front-runner for the job.
"Staniforth is our first choice candidate as having worked in the Hockey India League, he has the knowledge about Indian hockey. Greg Clarke (junior men's team coach) also recommended his name. But we will have to see his terms and conditions," the source said.
A two-time medallist in the Champions Challenge event, Staniforth was the goalkeeping coach and video analyst of inaugural HIL winners, Ranchi Rhinos.
The foreign goalkeeping coach will report to Hockey India's High Performance Director and interim chief coach, Roelant Oltmans in the ongoing national camp in Bangalore, where the Indian team is preparing for the Asia Cup which they desperately need to win to qualify for next year's World Cup in Hague, The Netherlands.
Oltmans is in charge of the team along with newly-appointed coach M K Kaushik after Australian Michael Nobbs was prematurely shown the door due to non-performance.
Interestingly, it was Nobbs who in the past had called for the need to appoint a specialist goalkeeping coach in order to broaden the country's bench strength on this vital front.