London: National hockey coach Michael Nobbs slammed a section of the players for India’s dismal show at the London Olympics.
Known as a soft spoken person, the Australian was so upset after South Korea thrashed India 4-1 on Sunday that he suggested some of the senior players should stop playing for the country. “While Sardara (Singh) is playing his heart out, some of them are taking things lightly…I think it is time they move on and make way for youngsters,” Nobbs said.
India are the only team among the 12 competing in the current Olympics without a point from five matches. They could now be heading for their lowest ever finish in Olympics. India’s last match is against Belgium.
India’s worst moment in Olympic hockey came in 1996 Atlanta Games when they finished eighth. This time, India could be playing for the 11th and 12th places as under the new rule of positional play-offs, there will be a direct encounter between the teams of two pools who do not make the semi-finals.
The Koreans, who had suffered a 1-2 loss to Belgium in their last match, played with vengeance. Though India, who conceded the lead in the sixth minute, were quick to equalise four minutes later through Gurwinder Singh Chandi, the Koreans hit back to rout the eight-time Olympic champion.
That the Koreans were impeccable with their penalty corner conversions was their biggest advantage. They converted three of the five chances that came their way. Hyun Woo Nam (60th, 70th) struck twice while Jong Hyun Jang (6th) and Lee Seung (68th) got the other two goals for them. India were pathetic in penalty corners and wasted all the four chances.
Nobbs said his team were clearly not cut out for a top class tournament like the Olympics. “In the qualifiers, we played against B grade teams... Here, the boys were expected to give their best but some of them did not.”
While India’s defeat in hockey didn’t come as a surprise, the setback at the shooting ranges was an unexpected one. Tipped as a possible medal winner, trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu finished a poor 25th among 34 competitors on the first day of the men’s qualification.
Having shot 70 out of 75 in the first three rounds, Manavjit now will have to do extraordinary well in the final 50 shots on Monday to qualify for the final. The former world champion hit 24, 24 and 22 in three rounds.
Australia’s Michael Diamond, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, leads the field with a perfect 75. Five shooters are tied for the second place with a score of 74 and seven shooters share the third spot with a total of 73 each.
On Saturday, boxer Manoj Kumar lost his pre-quarter-final bout against Great Britain’s Thomas Stalker 16-14 and said he was a victim of poor judgement. He even alleged that British boxers were being favoured by the referees.
Asked, India’s deputy chef de mission, Muralidhar Raja, told The Telegraph: “I don’t think there was much to complain about… We should be able to accept defeats gracefully.”