A rattled Hockey India (HI) president A. K. Mattoo is flying down to Pune following a reported revolt by senior players spearheaded by deposed captain Sandeep Singh against coach Jose Brasa.
The seniors are apparently unhappy with the way the Spanish coach is going about his job. Sandeep, who has pulled out of the camp complaining a back problem, seems to differ with Brasa over drag-flicking.
A source close to Sandeep said Brasa wanted the drag-flicker to use a longish, flat stick but the player is unwilling to make any change in his stick or the way he drag-flicks.
When contacted, Sandeep told IANS that he would not like to discuss the “nature of his back problem till he talked to HI officials.
“Please, I don’t want to talk about my back problem before I talk to HI officials,” he said.
The senior national team is preparing at Pune’s Balewadi Complex for the Champions Challenge tournament at Salta, Argentina, from December 6-13.
Five players, including Ignace Tirkey and Prabodh Tirkey, who are not in the squad for Salta but they are part of the core group preparing for the Commonwealth Games, are also miffed with Brasa.
New captain Rajpal Singh refused to go into the issues raked up by his teammates, but said that they have no problem with the coach. “We have a good rapport with the coach both on and off the field,” he said.
While Brasa announced that Sandeep will not be fit to play in the Champions Challenge, Mattoo said that the injury is not all that serious.
Mattoo, however, hastened to add that he would not hazard a guess over Sandeep’s chances of playing in Argentina unless he talks to the coach and the players. “I have seen the doctor’s report on Sandeep’s injury which is not alarming.”
Asked whether Sandeep would play in the Champions Challenge, Mattoo said “I can’t say anything now, I have to talk to the coach as well as players in Pune.”
Team physiotherapist Shrikant Iyengar said he has submitted his report with HI and he has nothing to say on the injury.
HI is also not exactly happy with Brasa going public over his demand for a psychologist and video analyst besides equipment. An HI insider conceded that fissures have developed in the team as some players are backing Brasa while others are finding fault with his coaching methods.
“Why all these issues have cropped up now, after the captain has been replaced. If the players have problems they should thrash it out with the coach and HI, but they should not pull out of the camp as that would harm the team’s interests,” said another senior player on the condition of anonymity.