New Delhi: Indian hockey chief coach Paul van Ass won't be part of the national camp commencing on Sunday as he is yet to return from Netherlands.
This after media reports of a public confrontation between Paul van Ass and Narinder Batra in Antwerp after the Indian-Malaysia in the quarter-final match at the World League semifinals, suggests all is not well between the duo.
Adding fuel to fire, Hockey India president on Saturday said he was willing to go ahead with preparations for Rio Olympics without a chief coach.
Van Ass, currently on leave in his home country has not yet returned to India. However, players, coaching staff and high performance director Roelant Oltmans reported at the Shilaroo Hockey Stadium in Shimla on Saturday.
"The coach hasn't reached yet. He was supposed to come on July 17, but he hasn't come yet," Batra confirmed to DNA on Saturday.
"I don't depend on one person. The Olympics are next year, and I'm not dependant on any one person," he added.
The first signs of problems between the two began to appear after the tournament in Antwerp. Despite the coach being satisfied with his team's performance, Batra made his disappointment clear and ordered a report on the team's display from the coaching staff by July 15.
The Dutchman, clearly miffed, did not submit his report.
"The report was supposed to be submitted by July 15. It hasn't come yet. Everyone else has submitted it. Only Paul hasn't," Batra said.
"We will have a meeting and we will evaluate the performance (of the team in HWL Semifinals) properly. Only after that will we take a decision. That meeting will tentatively be on July 24 or 25," he said.
Oltmans, who was on his way to Shimla on Saturday afternoon, too told this paper that Van Ass hadn't arrived yet and that there was no clarity on the same.
"For me it's not clear at all at the moment. The only thing I can say about it is that hopefully there will be clarity soon," Oltmans told DNA.
"It's not up to me to decide (on the areas to work upon for players in the camp). We'll have a chat with everyone and make that clear," he said.
"Overall the performance in the tournament, and especially towards the end, was disappointing. But it wasn't as bad as everyone thinks it was," he added.
The camp in Shimla is slated to go on till August 8.
According to a report in the Indian Express, a public confrontation occurred between Paul van Ass and Narinder Batra in Antwerp after the Indian-Malaysia in the quarter-final match at the World League semifinals.
The report said that Batra entered the field of play and had a word with the players, at which Van Ass intervened, asking him to leave the field.
“He was unhappy with the team’s performance. After the match, as the players were undergoing their cool-down exercises, Batra came near the dug-out and told the players that the performances needed to improve. He also suggested that the coach and captain should sit together and chart the way forward,” the report quoted a source.
It continued, “Van Ass wasn’t happy that Batra was talking to the players directly after the match. He reminded Batra that he was the coach and on field, only he had the authority to talk to the players. Batra was left red-faced and he eventually left but he told Van Ass that his behaviour was not acceptable.”
After the hard-fought win over Malaysia, India suffered a humiliating 0-4 defeat at the hands of hosts Belgium in the semis.
Van Ass was to submit his report to Hockey India over India’s performance in the tournament on July 16, but the Dutchman is yet to return from leave.
In between, another report in the same newspaper said that the chief coach's name is missing from the intimation letter sent to the players for national camp which begins at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh.
Former Dutch national coach Van Ass joined Hockey India as the chief coach on January 30, had previously helped the Netherlands to a silver at the 2012 London Olympics.