The national men’s hockey team head coach Graham Reid on Tuesday met Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra after the country’s top sports administrator questioned the side’s recent inconsistent performance.
Batra, who also heads the International Hockey Federation, had last week asked Hockey India to explain the reasons behind the team’s “unacceptable" performance in Bangladesh and South Africa following its historic bronze in Tokyo Olympics last year.
“Met today with Graham Reid chief/head coach Indian men hockey team… coming from Bhubaneswar to see me in Delhi," Batra said.
“Had detailed discussion on Indian men hockey team’s performance in Bangladesh and South Africa. We further discussed about preparations till 2022 Asian Games which is an Olympic qualifier for both Indian men and women hockey teams.
“Only by winning gold medal in Asian Games is direct qualification for 2024 Paris Olympics."
On Tuesday last, Batra, in a strongly-worded communication to HI President Gyanendro Ningombam, had said he has serious concerns about the team’s performance after the historic bronze in Tokyo Olympics last year.
He also indicated that the team was being mismanaged but did not specify how.
“I have serious concerns about the way Indian men’s hockey team has performed after Tokyo bronze medal. In Bangladesh and now in South Africa. Blaming the players … is not ultimate and only truth for me," Batra had said in the message, also marked to HI Secretary General Rajinder Singh and CEO Elena Norman.
The Indian team has been inconsistent after scripting history in the Tokyo Games in August last year, where it won a bronze after 41 years.
The team could not defend the Asian Champions Trophy title in December last year and then lost to lower-ranked France in a FIH Pro League match in South Africa last week.
“The way the team is performing is not at all acceptable and please see where the problems are at all levels. I will not accept Team India to be mishandled and mismanaged, such incompetence will have to make way," said Batra, who wrote the letter in his capacity as IOA chief.
In the four FIH Pro League games in South Africa this month, India won three and lost one. The team beat South Africa twice with identical 10-2 margins.
But what might have raised concerns for Batra was the 2-5 defeat to France in the second-leg tie on Saturday after beating the same side 5-0 in their first match of the South Africa sojourn.