New Delhi: Indian hockey team needs a sport
psychologist to enhance mental toughness of players and help
them continue their fine form in next month`s Asian Games,
feels former captain Dilip Tirkey.
"India team urgently needs a dietitian and psychologist.
Mental toughness is first and foremost need to perform
consistently at highest level. Only an expert can instill that
among the players," Tirkey told reporters.
"It is also necessary to remain grounded after a win and
in the same way recovery cannot be ignored. Our players need
to focus on that with the help of a psychologist," added the
ace defender, who had led the team in Doha Asian Games four
Chief coach Jose Brasa also had raised the issue during
Delhi CWG, where India finished runner-up after an 8-0 loss to
Australia in the final.
Impressed with India`s performance in the October 3-14
mega-event, Tirkey hoped that the Indians will finish on the
podium in Asian Games, to be held in Guangzhou, China from
"India is playing good aggressive brand of hockey and I
think, we can win a medal in Asian Games. Although we have to
work on defence and penalty corners, where we are lacking,"
said Tirkey, who announced retirement earlier this year due to
recurring ankle problem.
India had failed to qualify for the medal round of the
15th Asian Games at Doha for the first time in the history of
the quadrennial event`s history.
A shocking 2-3 defeat to China in the preliminary league,
followed by a 1-1 draw against Korea in a must-win match put
paid to the Indian hopes of making it to the semifinals.
The win over lower-rated teams, including Malaysia in the
four-five classification matches, were no solace to India.
Giving some tips to the India defenders prior to Asian
Games, Tirkey said the focus should be on tackling and
"We should focus on tackling and marking. It was painful
to see our defenders conceding as much as eighth goals against
Australia in the final. All the players are fit and I don`t
understand what went wrong.”
"Defence looked shattered and it is a cause of concern
and so is penalty corner. Given the caliber of Sandeep Singh
our conversion rate could have been better," he added.
He also sought inclusion of experienced forward Prabhjot
Singh and defender Ignace Tirkey in the China-bound squad.
"Coach Brasa emphasised a lot on substitutions. Prabhjot
and Ignace can be fitted in his scheme of things. They are
vastly experienced and that cannot be ignored," said Tirkey.
Asked about Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf`s claim to
avenge the CWG defeat in Asian Games, Tirkey felt the Rajpal
Singh-led team is far better than their arch-rivals at this
"People claim but ultimately performance matters. India
is a better team than Pakistan as far as technique, fitness
and performance is concerned. But we must avoid complacency
after winning last two encounters against the arch-rivals," he