Olympics 2012: Current players need to learn basics first: Baskaran

Updated: Aug 08, 2012, 15:10 PM IST

Chennai: Former coach Vasudevan Baskaran lashed out at the Indian hockey team for their dismal showing in the London Olympics, and said the current batch of players should first get their basics right before aspiring to play at the international level.

Eight-time champions India ended their league campaign at the Games with an ignominious all-loss record, their worst in the history of the mega event, as they lost all their five Group B matches.

"It is all about basics -- of trapping, dribbling, man marking and strong dodging etc. The players need to learn their basics first (before seeking selection to the Indian team)," Baskaran told PTI.

"We have conceded at least 23 penalty corners in the Olympics, which is unacceptable. Since 1984, we have been conceding penalty corners at will. It shows our poor skills and how weak our basics are," he pointed out.

Baskaran was particularly critical of ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh`s performance, which flopped big time in the Olympics.

"Sandeep can`t be taught to play differently or change his style of play.
He can play only in the 16 yards area, whereas all defenders in other teams play from the start line. All these basics need to be imbibed at the junior level," he said.

The penalty corner specialist has scored just one goal in the Games till the end of the round robin phase as compare to the 16 he had slammed in during the Olympic qualifiers held in February-March in Delhi.

The skipper of the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medal winning team, however, had words of appreciation for vice-captain Sardar Singh, saying he gave his heart and soul in all the matches but was let down by his team-mates.

"The team lacked a formation on the pitch. Traditionally our wingers used to be very good, but it was difficult to identify who were manning the wings. I am very sorry to say that except for Sardar Singh no player could claim that he did his job,’’

Baskaran felt the team`s performance started dipping once it had lost their first two league games to The Netherlands and New Zealand.

"They were not able to come out of the losses to The Netherlands and New Zealand," the former coach said.

Baskaran felt half back Kothajit Singh should have been part of the Olympic team after having the regular left half over the last nine months, including the Games qualifiers.

"I think he was shaping up as a good and strong left half in all the games. You cannot afford to lose the service of a first choice left half," he remarked.

Baskaran was also surprised that Captain Bharat Chetri was not a first-choice goalkeeper in the starting lineup.

"I am surprised that our keeper did not play in the first eleven in some games. I do not understand as to why he was sitting out. He is the (team`s) best goalkeeper and captain and deserved to be in the team."

He also refrained from blaming chief coach Michael Nobbs for the debacle and said the Australian had done a good job in the last one year, but might have made a few selection errors.

"For an Australian or a foreign coach, it takes at least three or four years to assess the talents of the players. We need to have a set of 30 boys at the junior level and coach them and check their progress periodically in order to prepare them to be ready to play in the 2016 Olympics. Such system should be brought in place from a developmental team point of view," Baskaran said.

"Nobbs was given only one year to find talents."

He also criticised the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for introducing the controversial blue and pink turf for the London Olympics.

"I don`t understand why the FIH decided to have the blue turf for the Olympics. The decision was taken just one year before the Olympics.

"The Asian countries cannot afford to have that facility in all their grounds as it costs something around Rs five crores," Baskaran said.

The former coach said that now that India is out of the Olympics, Nobbs`s boys should leave the disastrous campaign behind and focus on the Champions Trophy to be played in Melbourne later this year.

"The Champions Trophy in December should be the target of the team management," Baskaran said.

"It is difficult for the team to pick themselves up from such depths and mount a serious challenge for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but he feels that with a proper system in place, the Indian team can improve its performance.