Former Olympic gold medallists term Indian hockey team’s disastrous campaign at London Games as the worst performance ever

Former Olympics gold medallists described the Indian hockey team’s disastrous campaign at the London Games as the worst performance ever by Indian team in the mega event. “This is surely the worst ever performance. They have been outplayed in every department. The team never looked like they are playing at the Olympics,” Olympian Zafar Iqbal according to a report in The DNA.

Iqbal, a member of the hockey team that won the last Olympic gold medal for India in 1980 at the Moscow Games, in a scathing attack called the team “mediocre” and said the country has stopped producing talented players. “After losing all their league matches they are staring at the worst-ever finish. I have no complaints either against the selectors or the coach. It seems the country has stopped producing quality players,” said the former chief national coach.

Meanwhile Vasudevan Baskaran, who captained the 1980 gold medallist team, said the present team lacked camaraderie and players failed to pick themselves up. “The team looked off-colour from the very first match. There was lack of camaraderie and failed to play according to the plan, if they had one,” said Baskaran.

Losing all their group matches, India play South Africa on Saturday in the playoff to decide the last two spots.

Meanwhile a report in The Hindu quotes Indian coach Michael Nobbs saying that that India’s hockey players have a role model within their ranks and should look at play-maker Sardar Singh for inspiration.
Sardar has stood out among the fumbling Indian players, continuously feeding the strikers from his centre-half position and also bolstered the defence that has repeatedly shown signs of crumbling under the slightest of pressure.

“Look at Sardar Singh and the effort he puts on the field. Even when things have gone wrong for the team, he has played his heart out,” says Nobbs, facing the enormous task of getting the team spirits up for India’s last match which they need to win to avert a bottom place in the 12-team Olympic Games hockey competition.

Nobbs acknowledged that his players had struggled in India’s return to the Olympic Games after missing out on the qualification for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The coach said the Indian players had improved their fitness following an extended training programme, but they were unable to produce the game they were capable of.