New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) India captain Sardar Singh agrees with Australian Ric Charlesworth that the eight-time Olympic champions need a top foreign coach to meet the demands of modern hockey.
Hockey India (HI) has started its search for a foreign coach to replace Michael Nobbs, who was sacked last week for non-performance.
Charlesworth, who had a brief coaching stint with the Indian team in 2008, had said that the country's coaches were not good enough to meet the demands of modern hockey.
India's high performance director and Dutch legend Roelant Oltmans is currently in charge of the team while Olympic gold medallist Maharaj Krishan Kaushik has been named the national coach.
Sardar welcomed the appointment of Kaushik but said the need of the hour is a reputed foreign coach.
"Kaushik is one of the best Indian coaches we have and along with Oltmans, the team should go in the right direction. In the long run, I feel we need someone like Oltmans to take the team forward," Sardar told IANS ahead of the training camp beginning July 16 for the Asia Cup next month.
Asked about his experience with Nobbs, Sardar said the team learnt a lot under Nobbs even though the results were not up to the mark.
"He was a good coach. You could really be open with him. He treated everyone the same and was strict with both younger and senior players. One could talk to him as a coach, as a friend. I had spoken to him some time ago and he told me he was making up his mind on returning to India after a break," said the 26-year-old.
Under Nobbs, the team lost all its matches during the 2012 London Olympics and finished a disappointing last among the 12 competing teams. Last month, India were sixth out of eight teams in the FIH World League Round 3 tournament in Rotterdam.
However, Nobbs' biggest achievement was taking India, who had missed the Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years, back to the Olympics by winning the qualifier on home soil. The team also finished fourth during the 2012 Champions Trophy.
Sardar expects better results under Oltmans, who took over as the high performance director in January.
"The good thing is that he already knows the players. He has been involved with us for months and monitored our sessions alongside Nobbs. He knows where we need to work on."
Asked how Oltmans is different from Nobbs, Sardar said: "Nobbs used to focus on man-to-man marking while Oltmans prefers zonal marking. He says you don't have to run with your opponent all the time. This is one major difference in their thinking."
Sardar said the team is finding it tough to be consistent for 70 minutes, because of a vulnerable defence besides issues with ball trapping and tackling.
"As I said, the game moves on at an express pace. You can't last for 70 minutes if you don't make fast substitutions. This way all players get opportunities. The boys realise their mistakes and hopefully we will overcome them in the camp and do well in Asia Cup. But doing well against all teams will take some time," said Sardar.
Nobbs stressed on bringing youth into the side at the expense of senior players like Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh. But Sardar feels that age should not matter as long as the player is performing well.
"Experience also plays a huge role. If teams like Belgium have improved immensely in the last five years, one of the reasons for that is most of their senior players are still around," said Sardar.
(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)