Be it balancing a plate of thick bread, a little rice and a lone chicken kebab at lunch or adroitly dwelling on hockey’s finer points to a group of Karnataka coaches, Michael Nobbs felt at home at the KSHA Stadium here on Sunday afternoon.

The Indian hockey coach, who is in town as a guest lecturer at a coaches’ seminar organised by Hockey Karnataka, spoke about issues ranging from the need for more goal-keepers to the fifth-place finish at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia.

Excerpts:

Goal-keepers and mid-field woes:

We are looking at initiating a goalkeeping camp to look at what we have and develop that area. We just need to do a bit of talent hunting. We need more mid-field links. We need to see what the talent available is and develop it quickly.

Youth brigade’s charge in Malaysia:

There were a number of reasons for taking new players for the tournament. The senior players have had a tough season and soft tissue injuries and staleness had crept in.

The future of our team for Olympics and beyond is our junior players so it (Sultan Azlan Shah tournament) was an opportunity. The juniors found out that the competition at the international level is much tougher than what they saw at Hockey India League. The results were reasonable.

The fifth-place finish:

This tournament showed that video referral in Malaysia needs to be looked at. We saw what happened (the penalty stroke issue in the game against Malaysia).

We were the youngest team there with an average age of 19 and beating Pakistan twice was good.

Player-appraisals:

Sardar Singh & Manpreet Singh:

Sardar’s role is going to change — to become more aggressive and attacking. Not just giving a pass and looking, he gives great passes but we want him to pass, give and go and get. Another aim at the Azlan Shah was to try out Manpreet.

He’s just turned 21 and has 62 international caps and was named in the Azlan Shah XI in centre midfield which is Sardar’s position. So we now have the ability to give Sardar the rest during a game and we won’t lose anything in putting Manpreet there.

Sandeep Singh:

It is up to Sandeep to reinvent himself and he is quite prepared to be at the next camp. He is not in the team but he’s going to fight to comeback. If he comes and proves everyone wrong, we have a better player.

Gurjinder Singh:

Clearly talented, very unfit. He has had a 12 months lay-off. He now has a fitness programme he is working on.

He is clearly a player for the future. We tried him in a few roles at the Azlan Shah, but he did not last very long due to the weather conditions and fitness.

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