New Delhi: On Wednesday the Indian men's hockey coach Harendra Singh was removed from the position due to a disappointing 2018 and offered the charge of helming the junior squad by the national federation.
Harendra Singh eliminated as Indian men's hockey team coach
Harendra was appointed in May, is the latest casualty of constant chopping and changing of coaches frequently. He is the sixth coach to be sacked in six years.
After India's medal-less showing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Junior World Cup-winning coach took charge but was unable to change the team's fortunes.
India was also below-par in the Asian Games in Indonesia, settling for bronze after going into the tournament as the defending champions. In Bhubaneswar, they ended the year with a quarterfinal loss in the World Cup.
Hockey India will soon be advertising and invite applications for the position of the Chief Coach of the Indian Men's Hockey Team which will be returning to training camp in February 2019 for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup scheduled to initiate from 23 March 2019.
"In the interim, the team will be overseen by Hockey India high-performance Director, David John and current Analytical Coach, Chris Ciriello," the statement added.
On Monday the decision to reassign Harendra was taken by the HI High Performance and Development Committee with an aim to build a "strong base" ahead of the 2021 Junior World Cup and the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
The meeting was attended by Committee chairman RP Singh, members including Olympians Harbinder Singh, BP Govinda and Syed Ali.
"The offer (of the junior head coach) has been made to Harendra Singh for taking charge of the Junior Men's team commencing from the camp slated to start in March 2019," HI said.
Harendra took the junior team to the World Cup title in 2016. As women's chief coach, he had swapped places with Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne to join the men's squad ahead of the August-September Asian Games.
India's practice of firing coaches at regular intervals has been criticized by many experts of the game including legendary Australian captain and Coach Ric Charlesworth.
Last month changes in the support staff were expected following India's quarter-final loss to the Netherlands in the World Cup at home. The fifth-ranked Asian team was aiming to win its first World Cup medal since 1975.
Former India captain Zafar Iqbal told PTI, "It is completely unprofessional from Hockey India. With less than two years to go for the Olympics, this is the last thing India needed. But seeing the trend (of changing coaches frequently) it is not a surprise anymore. You can't expect the team to win like this".
Iqbal added, "Even Germany lost in the semi-finals but that doesn't mean their team was bad. The same is the case with India who did not play poor hockey over the past 12 months".