Friday, May 29, 2015

India shuffle and experiment..

There is a touch of ingenuity and imagination in the approach work of the new Dutch coach for the Indian hockey team, Paul van Ass.
This reflects well in the selection of the team for the Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals to come off at Antwerp (Belgium) from June 20 to July 5.
The HWL is linked now to the Olympics in Rio as a qualification event, but it does not concern India much as it is already assured of the place after winning the Asian Games gold at Incheon.
What however makes this event an important one for the team as also to the coach is the opportunity to combat against the top outfits like Australia, Pakistan, France and others.
Undoubtedly, this will be another litmus test for the coach who obtained a moderate level of success on his first outing at the recent Azlan Shah hockey tournament at Ipoh where India won a bronze after dipping into a hopeless position.
Some eyebrows are likely to be raised over the selection, which keeps out penalty corner striker Rupinderpal Singh, midfielder Mandeep and the striker Uthappa.
Van Ass has logically met with the developing skepticism over the omissions. He has argued rather convincingly the need to shuffle and experiment in competitions where India has nothing much to lose.
By recalling the young Yuvaraj Walmiki and giving a greater role Jasjit Singh Kular in the defense and in penalty corners, van Ass has taken a right step.
At one point of time not long ago, Walmiki was regarded as the enfant terrible of Indian hockey from Mumbai. He played a significant role in India winning the first Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos (Mongolia) under the Aussie coach, Nobbs, who laid a lot of hopes on this youngster. Injuries and a lack of a confidence by subsequent coaches kept him away from the national side. In the current dispensation, Walmiki should be seen as the substitute for Uthappa.
The basic architecture of the team remains undisturbed. All the top stars who have contributed immensely to enlarging the image of the country like Sreejesh, skipper, Sardar Singh, and veterans Gurbaj Singh, Birendra Lakra and S V Sunil are very much part of the squad.
India faces France in the opening match, but comes to grips with Pakistan in the next outing. Understandably, Pakistan is desperate to be back at the Olympics after missing the World Cup in The Hague last year.
More importantly, it will go all out to avoid a defeat against India after the ugly encounter win in the semi-finals during the Champions Trophy at Bhubaneswar.
Admittedly, there will be a lot of attention on India’s showing at Antwerp, especially in the light of the fact India is hosting the final of the HWL for the top eight teams here at Chattisgarh in December.
India is grouped with France, Poland, Pakistan and Australia in Pool A, while Pool B consists of China, Ireland, Malaysia, Great Britain and the host Belgium.

The team:
Goalkeepers: P.R.Sreejesh and Harjot Singh;
Defenders: Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, V.R.Raghunath, Jasjit Singh Khular, Gurmail Singh;
Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh, Chinglesena Singh, Lalith Upadyaya;
Forwards: S.V.Sunil, Nikkhin Thimmiah, Yuvaraj Walmiki, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh. 

Meeting to chart MHC future..

THE first meeting of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Executive Board (EB) will be held Saturday, and high on the agenda is naming of 10 committee chairmen to formulate and chart hockey's future for the next four years.
  There are a total of 12 committees under the MHC constitution, but with Finance as well as National Team Management having been taken by president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, 10 heads will be named at the first EB meeting.
  The 10 committees are Coaching, Competition, Development, High Performance, Indoor, Legal and Special Projects, Marketing and Sponsorship, Media Public Relations, Umpiring and Medical Committee.
  Former national skipper and now MHC vice-president Ow Soon Kooi is said to be the chosen one to head the Coaching Committee.
  "I've heard about being linked to the Coaching Committee but I will only know for sure tomorrow (today). Anyway, I stood for election because I wanted to serve hockey and I don't mind heading any of the 10 committees because in the end, all of them serve the sport in various capacities," said Soon Kooi.
  On his take of Subahan after two weeks on the hot-seat: "Personally speaking, the president has been on his toes and is very dedicated to serve hockey and wants to put everything in place as soon as possible so that the EB members can start contributing to the various committees."
  The Coaching Committee chairman as well as Finance will have their work cut out for the next four years, as previously, both the committees ran on a helter-skelter mode.
  The previous MHC management played musical chairs with their coaches and made a mess of some of the tournaments by pulling the chair even before it could be warmed.
  Right now, Tai Beng Hai is the chief coach assisted by Nur Saiful Zaini while Australian Neil Hawgood is consultant leading to the Belgium World League Semi-finals.
  The Committee Chairman will have his hands full when the WL Semi-finals ends on July 5, as his committee will have to move the chairs around again and decide whether to extend the Australian's contract as consultant, name him as chief coach, or release him.
  The Finance Committee will be tasked to wipe out MHC's RM2.6 million debt as soon as possible, as well as pay the coaches and players who are preparing for the Olympic qualifier their long overdue dues totalling RM300,000 by Saturday.