The Indian team’s disappointing show at the ongoing FIH Junior World Cup in Delhi has evoked a strong response from members of the Hockey India selection committee.
On Tuesday, in their last league match of the group, India needed a win against South Korea to progress to the knockouts, and despite leading 3-1 till the 58th minute, India went on to concede two quick goals and draw the game 3-3.
Manpreet Singh & Co were previously beaten 2-3 by the Netherlands and then struggled to beat Canada 3-2. Though the hosts and Korea finished on an equal four points, the visitors went through to the quarter-finals on better goal difference, dashing India’s hopes of a medal at the quadrennial tournament.
“If you look at the way the boys have played, they have missed so many chances. In a tournament like this, a World Cup, you just cannot afford to do that. I don’t know what is the reason for this... may be the pressure of playing in front of the home fans got to them... but it’s been a disappointing show,” former India skipper and now Hockey India selector Arjun Halappa told MiD DAY yesterday.
Another, selector, who did not wish to be named, said: “We were in a comfortable two-goal lead with only 12 minutes to go (against Korea). All we had to do was hold on to the ball, but we unnecessarily gave away possession, conceded two soft penalty corners and took two goals in a matter of 90 seconds. Even in the earlier matches, the team didn’t play well.
“We have given this team the best of training under foreign coaches and plenty of international exposure. We even sacrificed some of the senior players and sent a predominantly junior team to the Asian Champions Trophy in Japan earlier this year, so that the young players could get some valuable match practice ahead of this Junior World Cup, but all that has proved to be futile.”
The selection committee is not likely to take this result lying down, and some chopping and changing is a possibility. “There will definitely be a post-mortem after the tournament, where we will not just try and look for answers, but also take some tough decisions, if needed,” warned Halappa.
“The team’s poor show here is not just unexpected, but unacceptable too because our players are all very talented. I will be attending a meeting with the team management on December 16 to seek some answers,” said the other selector.