Apr 1, 2019

Five Things That New Indian Coach Needs To Fix

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Australian Graham Reid set to be new coach of Indian team

Speculations are rife that Australian Graham Reid will soon take over the reigns as coach of Indian men hockey team and Hockey India has already submitted his name to Sports Authority of India for final approval.

Reid, who coached Australia to numerous victories, including World League and World Cup will be India’s third coach in two years.

With Graham Reid set to take over as coach of Indian hockey team, there is no doubt he will have his work cut out as currently Indian team has lot of issues that needs to be fixed. Indian team in last couple of years has been inconsistent and only flashes of brilliance has been seen on the field. The team which was doing well under Walsh and Oltmans has often been found wanting when it comes to business end of the tournament. Here are five things that new Indian coach needs to fix:

Sreejesh’s replacement 

When Devesh Chauhan left the international scene, Indian hockey team had good bench strength in Adrian D’Souza, PR Sreejesh and Bharat Chetri with anyone of them having equal ability to take over the reins and become best Indian goalkeeper but today with Sreejesh reaching twilight of his career (David John doesn’t like his players over 30) Indian team does not have any able replacement. During the time Sreejesh has been India’s first choice goalkeeper, India has tried the likes of Harjot Singh, Akash Chikte and Krishan Pathak in goal with mixed results. While Sreejesh can still do a good job under the bar, it is also time to think about who will take the mantle when he retires in near future.
Youth Only or Mix of Experience 

Since 2012 London Olympics, India’s policy when it comes to players has been youth only and hoping that their fitness and youthful exuberance will help Indian team win World Cup or Olympics. Average age of players during 2014 World Cup was 23.5 and it was nearly same 4 years later in 2018 World Cup. It is quite clear that the youth only policy of Indian team is currently not working, and experience plays a huge role when it comes to team’s success. New coach right from the start should lay down the law about what he wants. Does he want to continue with young players or bring back experienced players that can balance the team. Graham Reid is fond of experienced players and he brought back Jamie Dwyer in the squad when he became coach after he was sidelined by Ric Charlesworth. It will be quite interesting to see that exactly does the new coach want- Youth or Mix of Experience

The Selfish approach

Yes, it’s a fact that Indian players are selfish, especially the forward line and this has been a major problem for Indian players for last few years that is clearly hampering team’s overall performance. The players are so keen to outdo each other that they don’t understand that this is harming the team. Against weaker sides, these players were able to score many goals (as we saw in Asian Games) but when it comes to good competitive sides, they are heavily exposed, and the team ends up paying for this. Against better teams, Indian forwards failed to score and even provide opportunity to penalty corner experts to have a shot at goal. New coach must figure out a way to get these players back to playing as a team and work towards team goals and glory instead of personal ones.

Good Scouting Network

There is no doubt that Indian hockey has a great crop of young players and new and exciting players keep on coming every year. While the national camp focuses on just 25-30 players (which include the senior players), many good players fall of the radar and are lost due to poor system. New coach will have to develop a scouting system to find new talents and make sure that these players are imparted necessary education that will help them to become good players for the future. 

Develop Big Match Temperament

Once area where Indian team seriously lacks is the big game temperament. Whenever a crunch situation arises, Indian hockey team falls like a pack of cards. Be it conceding last minute goals or failing to deliver at a major point in a tournament. During recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, it was twice against Korea that Indian team faltered. First during the group stage match where they conceded a last-minute goal and then during finals when the players were overwhelmed by the big stage and conceded a goal. And it’s not just Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, over the years we have seen that Indian team failing to deliver during crunch moments and that has cost the team dearly. 
Indian team will soon be taking part in Hockey Series that and winning the tournament will open the door for Olympics qualification. With the tournament being just couple of months away, new coach will be under lot of pressure to deliver results to ever demanding Indian hockey fans.

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