New Delhi: Former players on Tuesday termed Hockey India`s decision to sack Australian coach Michael Nobbs a "step in the right direction" and backed Olympian M K Kaushik to once again take over the reins of the men`s national team.
Captain of India`s last World Cup-winning side in 1975, Ajitpal Singh said Nobbs should have been shown the door after the London Olympics debacle last year.
"This sacking should have come much earlier. It is a step in the right direction. We finished 12 out of 12 teams in London which is disturbing and shameful for a hockey playing nation like India, which possess a rich history," the skipper of the World Cup-winning team said.
"He (Nobbs) has not been able to produce results. So, he doesn`t deserve to get a longer run.
"The players have also told me in the past that they prefer (Jose) Brasa over Nobbs. Brasa was no doubt a better coach than Nobbs," he added.
Ajitpal welcomed Hockey India`s decision to induct Kaushik in the coaching staff of the men`s team.
"Kaushik is a good coach. I would welcome his appointment. We have spent a lot on foreign coaches without desired results, so why not we give Kaushik the charge of the team," said Ajitpal, a member of India`s bronze-medal winning teams in 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympics.
"He has already proved his credentials as a coach. He coached India to gold medal in 1998 Asia Games in Bangkok," added the Padma Shri awardee.
Former India captain Zafar Iqbal seconded Ajitpal`s views.
"Hockey India made the right decision by sacking Nobbs and recommending Kaushik for a coach`s post with the team. Under Nobbs the performance of our team has dropped. So question doesn`t arise why he should be kept," Zafar said.
"There is hardly any improvement to show."
Zafar also sympathised with Nobbs and said a coach is as good as his players.
"I feel sorry for Nobbs too because may be he did have high quality players at his disposal. A coach has his own limitations," said Zafar, a member of India`s last Olympic gold medal side at the 1980 Moscow Games.
Like Ajitpal, Zafar too vouched for Kaushik to fill up Nobbs` shoes.
"We have to believe in Kaushik. He is a good track record as coach. In my opinion we have tried a lot of foreign coaches, but it`s time an Indian like Kaushik should be given full charge," he said.
Former national coach Joaquim Carvalho was also critical of Nobbs` performance and said the Australian has hardly done anything worthwhile to galvanise the sagging fortunes of Indian hockey.
"Nobbs is not at all a good coach. A good coach is someone who makes good strategies, possesses good management and communication skills. A good coach is someone who reads the game. But India`s performance has gone down drastically under him," he said.
Pargat Singh, who played a key role in Nobbs` appointment as India`s chief coach, also welcomed the decision, saying it was high time to give "marching orders" to the under-performing Australian.
Hockey India has sacked Nobbs as the chief coach of the Indian team for non-performance, thus becoming the fourth foreigner to be shown the door before completion of the full tenure.
Nobbs` contract was terminated yesterday, almost three years before it was to expire. Roelant Oltmans, who is currently the High Performance Manager, has been given charge of the team until a new coach is appointed.
Nobbs, who took over the charge in 2011, was offered a five-year contract and a handsome salary, but his association with Indian hockey lasted merely two years and before ending on a bitter note.
Before Nobbs, Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australian Ric Charlesworth and Germany`s Gerhard Rach coached the Indian side before being shown the door due to several issues.