Indian hockey's bad phase continues

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> India's latest debacle on the hockey pitch saw them missing out on a medal at Asian games for the first time ever.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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India's latest debacle on the hockey pitch saw them missing out on a medal at Asian games for the first time ever. But what is even more unfortunate is that everyone, right from the IHF President KPS Gill, to hockey experts and fans, are not surprised by this humiliation. And one cannot but agree, given the way the team has played all through 2006. India's 3-2 loss to China in the Preliminary Round of the 15th Asian Games in Doha was what eventually cost them a place in the last four - the first time that has happened in the five-decade long history of the event. In fact, it also means the end of a very poor season for the men's team. Successive loss They began the year with a loss in the home-and-away series against Pakistan, before missing the silver and finishing sixth in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. They finished third in the four-nations Easter Cup, which was also the first tournament for Vasudevan Bhaskaran in his third stint as coach. The Bronze medal in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the first in a major tournament for three years, gave the faithful some hope. But the 11th-place finish at the World Cup and the latest Asian Games debacle signals a new low for Indian hockey. "The Indian domestic circuit is so poor that when the guys come to the senior level they just can't cope with the pressure of the whole thing and therefore, keep coming back empty-handed," said Pargat Singh, former Indian Hockey captain. All is still not lost, however. The team can make it to the Beijing Olympics if they win one of three tournaments in Early-2008. But given the way they've played in recent times, hockey fans can forget about a ninth Olympic gold, unless a major overhaul takes place, both at the administrative and tactical levels. "We need more honesty not from just IHF but also from players. And a concrete plan has to come into place," said Viren Rasquinha, former player. So, yet another shameful performance by the Indian hockey team and even as the hunt for scapegoats begins afresh, one thing is for sure that coach Bhaskaran is almost certainly on his way out.