S. Thyagarajan

The frontline's performance too is nothing to crow about

Brasa is entitled to decline answering on policy matters or even selection

Ipoh: Into two games in the Azlan Shah tournament, the Indian team is unsettled. This is notwithstanding the big victory over Pakistan on Friday.

There is a filament of inconsistency that contributes to patches of loose play and flawed marking as was evident in the opening match. India was lucky to survive on that day.

What should cause anxiety to Jose Brasa and his team of coaches is the inability of the newcomers to take charge.

The rookies like Ravinderpal, Rupinder and Amit Prabhakar are yet to get into the rhythm demanded in this level of competition.

The team leans heavily on seniors who are motivated by Gurbaj Singh and Arjun Halappa, who missed the first game. Mid-field is the fulcrum of the squad even though the comeback wing half Prabhodh Tirkey is unable to regain his touch.

The frontline's performance too is nothing to crow about. There is no trace of harmony. Individual efforts by Rajpal Singh are pleasing to the eye but little purpose is served when not a single cross pass is connected or deflected into the goal.

Modern hockey's essence is in achieving perfection in meeting the long ball and stupefying the goal-keeper with immaculate deflection into the netting. Mandip Antil did that on Friday but it was an exception.

With four points in two matches and slotted second in the table it is happy tidings at this point.

The event is yet to get into full steam. Only the top two can play the final here.

The goal for India should be retaining the trophy and not a mere podium finish that will be hailed as something extraordinary by some sections.

Aussies struggle

Korea and Australia are not at the best here. The Aussies were forced to struggle against Egypt in a rain marred match.

The Koreans too are not menacing. Malaysia plays with a palpable spirit and skill. It is a pity it had to share points with Pakistan in the opener.

Since the take over of the national team last year, Spanish coach, Jose Brasa, has been in the news, for wrong reasons many a time.

He is prone to call a spade a spade. Some statements were caustic, directed towards the officialdom's apathy.

But the gag on him to talking to the media seems far fetched. If the restraint order is true, it is obviously interpreted wrongly to the point of preventing the coach from attending post-match briefings in a competition.

These are usually routine exercises where the coach analyses the team's showing in a given match or discusses the prospects of the next match.

The coaches are not making policy statements.

Brasa is entitled to decline answering on policy matters or even selection.

The directive has raised eye-brows here generating speculation about the strained relations between the Spaniard and the selection committee. One thing is clear. Brasa looks withdrawn and forlorn.

Sunday's matches: India vs. Korea (1.35 p.m. IST); Pakistan vs. China (3.35); Australia vs. Malaysia (5.35).

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