India hockey coach quits after failure in qualifier

NEW DELHI: India’s field hockey coach Joaquim Carvalho resigned yesterday after the eight-time Olympic champions failed to qualify for the Beijing Games. 

India crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Great Britain in the final of the qualifying tournament in Santiago, Chile on Sunday night, ending a proud record of having played in every Olympics since 1928. 

“When I took over 11 months ago, I had said I would resign if I cannot deliver results,” Carvalho told Indian media in Santiago. 

“So now I am keeping my word. I am as disappointed and hurt as any other Indian hockey fan.” 

Indian Hockey Confederation vice-president Narendra Batra also resigned, hoping to put pressure on the entire IHC administration, led by Kunwar Pratap Gill, to step down. 

“I am ashamed because all of us have failed,” said Batra. “This is the lowest point in Indian hockey and we in the federation must take the blame for it.” 

Gill, the former supercop credited with wiping out Sikh militancy in Punjab in the 1980s, played down the setback. 

“We do not have an instant coffee machine to get results instantly,” Gill told the Press Trust of India. “It takes time to regain your position. We have put the process in place and the results will take some time.” 

Batra was, however, unsure if any attempt would be made to overhaul the sport’s administration. 

“Is anyone really concerned?” he said. “The sports ministry has already demoted hockey as a priority sport although it remains our national sport.” 

Signs that India were headed for a major fall were evident over the last decade. 

Since winning the last of their eight Olympic golds at the western-boycotted Moscow Games in 1980, India claimed just one major title when Dhanraj Pillay’s men took the Asian Games gold in Bangkok in 1998. 

India finished seventh in the last two Olympics and were forced to qualify for Beijing after failing to win an Asian Games medal for the first time at Doha in December 2006.  

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