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Posted at: Jan 10, 2019, 10:11 AM; last updated: Jan 10, 2019, 10:11 AM (IST)

HI does it again, sacks Harendra

Men’s hockey coach axed in less than a year over poor results; told to oversee junior squad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 9

Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday removed Harendra Singh from the post of the men’s team coach, while recommending that he should take over as the coach of the junior men’s team. The decision to relieve Harendra of his responsibilities was taken during a meeting of HI’s high performance and development committee.

“The Committee has recommended to reassign Dronacharya Award winner Harendra Singh as the coach for the Indian junior men’s hockey team commencing from the camp slated to start in March,” HI said in a statement.

The high performance and development committee was of the opinion that Harendra was best suited to take charge of the junior team as during his three-year reign, the team went on to win the 2016 Junior World Cup in Lucknow.

“The mercurial rise of some of India’s top junior hockey players under the tutelage of Harendra Singh between 2013 and 2016 when India won the historic Junior World Cup in Lucknow and Harendra Singh’s ability of grooming youngsters has been the key reasons for the think-tank at Hockey India to arrive at this recommendation,” HI said.

Harendra was not available for comments and it was not clear whether he would take up the offer. HI will invite fresh applications to replace Harendra as the chief coach of the senior team.

“HI will be advertising and will invite applications for the position of the chief coach of the men’s team, which will be returning to training camp in February for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup scheduled to start on March 23. In the interim, the team will be overseen by high performance director David John and current analytical coach Chris Ciriello,” HI said.

The latest development is yet another example of HI’s bizarre working ways. HI appointed Dutchman Sjoerd Marijine, who was the head coach of the women’s team, as replacement for the sacked Roelant Oltmans in September 2017. Harendra was given charge of the women’s team. The two swapped places in May last year after the men’s team failed to win a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Under Harendra, India won the bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games, gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy and finished sixth at the 2018 World Cup.

Trouble started for Harendra when India lost to Malaysia in the semifinals of the Asian Games. It ended India’s title defence and a chance to win a direct qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What had saved Harendra’s job then was that the World Cup was only a couple of months away. But India’s 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the World Cup was hard for the federation officials to swallow. The last straw for Harendra was the coach’s open criticism of the umpires after the quarterfinal, blaming them for the team’s loss.

With India hosting an Olympics qualifying tournament in June, finding a new coach would be on the top of the priority list for HI. 

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