Hockey

'Change is difficult'

Michael Nobbs has strongly backed the Indian team selected for next month's Olympic qualifier.

Facing some tough questions relating to the selection of the side, chief coach Nobbs said the players were chosen on the basis of their form and fitness, and not reputation.

“We have spent months to pick the team. In the series against South Africa, we assessed the weaknesses and strengths and the selection committee unanimously decided the team,” said Nobbs, here on Tuesday.

He insisted that only the in-form players had been selected.. A few senior players like Rajpal Singh and Vikram Pillay were left out, while seasoned midfielders like Arjun Halappa and V.S. Vinaya were put among the standbys in the 22-member squad announced on Monday.

Explaining why some youngsters were preferred at the expense of senior players, Nobbs reminded about the purpose of his long-term association with Indian hockey. “There is a healthy competition where three players compete for one position. There are wonderful kids waiting to take the place if someone fails.

“If we want to go back to the top, we have to take hard decisions. I do not like players being dropped. As a player, I myself had been dropped. It is difficult to handle. We want everybody in the system. Change is difficult and this is difficult.”

With less than three weeks left for the Olympic qualifier, the Aussie said the team had started to assess each one of its five opponents. “We have started intensively. We have a group to analyse every single team and every single player.”

No easy game

Even as he expressed confidence about India's chances of qualifying for the Olympics, Nobbs rejected the notion that the team was in an easy pool.

Captain Bharat Chetri and his deputy Sardara Singh backed the coach on the composition of the side and its abilities.

India will start its campaign against Singapore on Feb. 18, followed by games against Italy, France, Canada and Poland.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 5:00:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/change-is-difficult/article2848413.ece

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