They may have come a cropper in the World Cup but Indian hockey players are the most skillful in the world and all they need to do to become a force to reckon with internationally is planning and organisation, feels legendary Argentine drag-flicker Jorge Lombi.
Lombi has high regards for India coach Jose Brasa, having played under him in Madrid’s Clube de Campo and said the Spaniard has introduced the Indians to modern day hockey.
“I have played a lot against the Indians. The Indian players during my time were good but the entire philosophy of the game has changed now,” Lombi, who is presently the assistant coach of Argentina, told PTI on the sidelines of the hockey World Cup here.
“The Indians are one of the most skillful players in the world, but the players during my time didn’t know about their specific roles in the team. They lacked organisation. But the current Indian players are different. They know their roles in the side.
“Only skill does not count, you also have to organise and plan things. After taking up the job, Brasa has organised the Indian players. He has made changes in their playing style which is necessary to compete against present day top teams,” he said.
Incidentally, Lombi was part of the Clube de Campo side that won back-to-back European Club Championship in 2004-05.
I have learnt a lot from Brasa. I was a member of the Clube de Campo team that won two European Club Championships and Brasa was the coach. He is a very experienced and smart coach. India will benefit from his association,” said Lombi, who represented his country in three Olympics starting from the 1996 Atlanta Games.
As a matter of fact, Jorge Lombi is an assistant to his older sibling Pablo Lombi in the Argentina support staff but the junior Lombi has no second thoughts about taking up the chief coach’s post once his brother calls it a day.
“We don’t have any family tradition of playing hockey. It happened that an uncle introduced us to hockey and we got interested in the game. Both of us first started playing in a local club. We later played for the country together and are now coach and assistant coach of the team,” said the 38-year-old Lombi, who overtook his brother in popularity stakes, becoming one of the highest goal-scorers for his country with 297 goals.
“We are professionals but he (Pablo) is the boss, so I just obey his instructions. I played in the national team for 16 years so I bring experience to him. But I will be more than happy to be the chief coach once Pablo quits,” he said.
“I started coaching just two years ago with the Spain women’s team as a penalty corner specialist. My coaching career has long way to go,” added the former short corner expert, who was the top-scorer at the Sydney Olympics.