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My Last Word
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My Last Word: Indian players failing us last four (8/22/2016)
--K. Arumugam
My Last Word: Indian players failing us last four Decades

Tell me a single match in which Indian men’s hockey team snatched a win from the claws of defeat in any mega tournaments (Olympics or World Cup), just like Germans did routinely in Rio, Australians in Athens, so many others on endless occasions?

Tell me one occasion in which the players excelled coach’s expectation and brought tears in him, as German team reflected on Altenburg Valentine?

They only caused tear of sorrow.

Try to recollect one World Cup or Olympics where Indian men justified their pre-event form in the last four decades.

They always lacked balls when mattered.

undefined They have endless number of reasons for failure, being masters at that, never had a single valid factor that can show them in good light.

Goal difference in 1984, failure to force a draw in the last pool match in Seoul, perfidious factional feud in 1992, leader’s and key players’ indiscipline and disregard for game plan in 1996, pissing off against Poland in 2000…..the sequence never ends.

Indian hockey players, always a pampered lot, proved anything but best at needle junctures.

They always lose from winning position. In the process, they consumed n-number of coaches not to speak of enhancing their career.

They go to Olympics, create a storm in one or two matches before fading into oblivion.

Indian sports scenario being what it is, catch eye-balls for a week before failing the tax payers’ largees they endlessly suck. And then when things heat up and when steely nerves are required, they chicken out.

Public by and large have decided Indian hockey will not return to glorious past, the Chalta hai attitude returns to public mind, go by emotion and declare loyalty to hockey by ‘standing by our heroes’ whatever the result.

Media never questions players and their lack of balls. So also the public. But they will pelt stones at cricketer’s house on serious failures!

I have seen this recurring nonsense last four decades, which is not a small time at all.

Poland in 2000, Canada in Rio, the nonsense is a non-stop phenomenon. Never winning Champions Trophy bronze in half a dozen chances, is another telling example to this pathological losing syndrome that afflicts our Indian hockey.

Are not Indian hockey players answerable? Are they beyond accountability?

It seems. Because the press turns blind eye.

When India finished last at London in the last Olympics, I demanded apology from Hockey India, inviting lot of enemies and enmity in one stroke.

There was a reason.

Some best talents were not given fair treatment, ignored for having played a rival league (WSH). My anger was thus justified.

What about this time?

India was the first team to qualify for Rio, and then they had everything at their feet. Tours and tours, camps and camps, comforts and comforts followed, even chairs and tables in their Games village!

One can on hindsight say a dropped player was a better choice, Mandeep Singh over some X or Y, or not considering Gurbaj Singh as if his presence in the last Olympics gave us the Gold! His dropping though lies within the confines of controversy.

Then of course changing a coach in Paul van Ass. I don’t know his sacking was right or wrong, but what I definitely know is the case of Belgium.

Belgium had three coaches after last Olympics, still they go to historic Olympic finals, and score in the last seconds (against us at The Hague World Cup), and shock the hitherto impregnable Dutch in the Rio semis.

We Indians fool ourselves, in our hurry to satisfy and justify our personal perception and judgement of things bordering hypocrisy, belatedly talking about selection, coaches and all superfluous things.

Indian hockey players, mirroring our social milieu, easily get satisfied on small achievement.

I saw in London last month how Indian juniors lost 1-2 in the second test match after winning the first encounter 7-1 at Bisham Abbey!

Was coach wrong? Has England then improved so much overnight?

Nothing.

Its in our players’ mind. You are never serious after a small success. That’s how Poland turns, in your view, easy meat, so also now Canada. And then you pay for it, we writhe in pain for our lifetime.

Indian team finished eighth in Rio, a position lower than every other Olympic on non-natural grass (Athens, Seoul, Los Angles, Montreal) except Barcelona and London.

Statistically, this is the worst ranking outside Bar-Lon.

This ranking was not due to you lost in the Quarters. But because you could not defeat Canada.

A goalie, a PC converter and half a dozen Indian migrants, who would not have got selected for India if they continued to live here, made monkey out of you. You will defeat Canada nine of out of ten times in normal course, but not where it mattered -- in Rio. The reason is simple.

A few hours before the Canada match you came to know you had qualified for the quarterfinal. That’s it. You are satisfied. You messed up Canada match. With a casual attitude, you brought anger in coach, who knew what will happen next. And of course we too.

Same happened. You invited trouble. Aao bail mujje maar stuff. The rest is history. Belgium did what is expected of them.

Indian men’s team go to World Cup or Olympics to play seven matches (though Rio had one less for non-semi-finalists). They do well as if the event has only four matches. Even in those matches, of late, concede goals in the last moments. This despite the fact that the current Indians are scientifically proven fit on par with the world' s best, experienced equally if not more than most other Rio teams.

A tournament is six or seven matches, a match is sixty or seventy minutes. Have Indian players ever understood this simple basic?

They are millionaires in cash minnows on mind.

In Sydney, still the best Olympic outing after Munich, we played just four good matches out of seven.

In Rio, despite being World No.5, was good again for only first four matches.

This is the question of character, question of having killer instinct, meeting the minimum aspirations of our million followers. These virtues are not taught in any boardroom.

Never scramble for excuses. Don’t quote, ‘Oh See Australia’.

Yes, they.

Australian case is an exception since 1956.

For us Indians, it’s a thumb rule since 1976. (Don’t point out we won gold in 1980 to prove your expertise).

Pakistan finished 11th at Wisdon Word Cup and rose to second position in the next.

Germany had been pushed to Olympic Qualifying rounds once. It hurt their pride so much so that what they did next turned out to be a book case. Did their form fade? No gentleman, no. As a case of rare revenge, they went on to next two Olympics gold, now third medal (bronze) in trot.

India on the other hand just gained two positions after Wisdon, and then three positions now after London Olympic number.

Why are we snail while others race?

Rio marks continuation players failing India. Failing their falling fan base, a member from London group that witnessed them said: “They run like headless chickens”.

There will be many manufactured scapegoats, but those cannot mask inherent flaw in our hockey players.

When goalkeeper is taken out, giving full chance to go at goal, Germany struck two goals in one minute, and other teams too did. Indian coach gave full ten minutes to attack, yellow shirt with Raghunath. What did Indian team do? Did they get any PCs? Did they score? They were backpassing as if the match has just commenced. There is no urgency, sorry to say, and I have to say, there is no last punch from you dear players. You don’t mind frustrating us.

Can you recall anytime an Indian player retiring on account of teams’ failure? I heard so only once in my four decades of following hockey (1989, Sujit Kumar).

Never.

Those players who make us fail are those who want to stick to the team even firmer.

Players expressing sorry in social media, getting hundreds and thousands ‘likes’ and comment in their favour, cannot mask their cowardice on the turf.

Emotional support to players should exit.

Public should demand answers from them.

Media will never do it for you. Hockey fan has to shoulder this responsibility for themselves.

Now, its public who should force our players to give results.

Lest, the same saga will go on and on.

A Japan, for instance, may do a China (in Doha AG) or a Poland, in Tokyo and still our players will have same sympathy on social front.

An answerable Indian team is what we need.

Indian team not only fooled us at Rio, themselves too.

They are now millionaires, blew the chance to become billionaires.

If Indian hockey is economic backbone of international hockey, which even expects an Indian to head it, the players put all of us on reverse gears.

Never boast being the only team to defeat ultimate winners Argentina. Its impact is otherwise. A team that you defeat comes out and wins the Gold. What a shame on India.

Do any of the flop heroes know how many tours Argentina undertake in their preparations, or how many turf that country has?

They don’t even have wherewithals to pay for two coaches recently, single coach handled both men and women’s national teams.

Indian players, always a pampered lot, escape scrutiny every time, never delivered on their part.

NOTE: My portrayal of Canada has been brought to my notice. Its wrong on my part to do so. Yes, I want to remove or alter the portion, but the problem is hundreds have already read, and the article spread. Its electronic age. Therefore, I tender my sincere regrets.

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