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After dismal run, India swaps coaches of men, women hockey teams

Mumbai :In an unprecedented move, Hockey India has swapped the men’s and women’s team coaches after a week-long review of the Commonwealth Games that concluded recently in Australia, where both teams finished fourth.
The game’s governing body sacked Sjoerd Marijne as coach of the men’s team on Tuesday and named Harendra Singh as his replacement. Harendra, who led the junior men’s team to the World Cup title in 2016, had succeeded Marijne as the women’s team coach last October. Both have been given contracts till 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Hockey India’s high performance director David John said Marijne was removed as the men’s team coach because of the poor result in Gold Coast, where the team finished outside the podium after silver medals in the last two editions.
Curiously, though, John admitted that the coach wasn’t at fault as much as the players.
“The team actually caused the problem. If they had performed to standard, particularly the strikers, we wouldn’t be in this situation. At every match in the Commonwealth Games, we should have been leading 3-0 at quarter-time… The strikers didn’t get the results, didn’t get the goals. As a result, we put ourselves under pressure and as a result of that pressure, we finished fourth,” John told The Indian Express.
Marijne is the 24th coach of the men’s team who has been sacked in as many years, and the fifth in last five years. John, who was the Indian team’s physio at the London Olympics, said the below-par performance of the players has largely been the reason for this.
“I think it’s been a problem for the last five coaches since 2011. We continually come up with statistics like we had the most circle entries in every tournament but at the end of the day, we don’t get the most number of goals in the tournament and it’s causing us problems,” he said.
With the Commonwealth Games debacle triggering panic within Hockey India, a review meeting was called last week when senior players criticised the coach’s strategies and selection policies. They expressed doubts over his ability to help the team defend its Asian Games gold medal in August and come up with a respectable performance at the World Cup in December. This loss of trust was the final nail in the coffin for Marijne, said sources.