Kolkata, July 15
World Cup-winning hockey legend Ashok Kumar on Wednesday stated it could be troublesome for the Indian males’s crew to maintain up the momentum that appeared adequate for a long-awaited Olympics podium end had the Games been held this yr.
A key member of the 1975 world champion crew and a bronze-medallist on the Munich Olympics can not help however wonder if the Manpreet Singh-led crew would form up as properly subsequent yr, because it did this yr after a stellar 2019.
“If the Olympics were held this year, we definitely had some chance. We had shown improvement and we could have got some good results there,” stated Kumar, who scored the profitable purpose towards Pakistan within the 1975 World Cup closing.
“Definitely, there is a break in momentum and it will really make a big difference. You can’t say now (that we will win medal). We will talk about it next year seeing how they perform in the build up to the Olympics.”
In reality, Kumar feels that coach Graham Reid may also be a bit circumspect because of the compelled break brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even (head coach) Graham Reid will have a big question mark going on his head now. Coaching is going on inside closed doors. Unless you see them in real matches, how will you assess… He’s not a machine.”
India’s greatest present got here towards world’s prime ranked crew Belgium, beating a full power facet 2-1 in a Pro League encounter. India additionally had a commendable 2-2 draw towards the formidable Australia of their closing Pro League sport earlier than world got here to a standstill because of the pandemic.
The 70-year-old additional stated the ladies’s crew was additionally in nice form and would have accomplished nicely had the Olympics been held as per the unique schedule.
“Even our women’s team were in the peak of their form and they too had bright chances but now we never know. We will talk about the Olympics only next year,” he stated, remembering the 5-1 win over the USA within the first leg of the Olympic Qualifier.
The males’s crew can have a packed calendar when play resumes as it’s slated to compete within the Asian Champions Trophy in November earlier than a tour to Malaysia adopted by a four-nation match in New Zealand early subsequent yr.
The crew will then resume the Pro League towards Argentina with back-to-back matches until finish of May within the construct as much as Tokyo 2021.
India, who misplaced to Belgium within the Rio 2016 quarterfinals, haven’t received an Olympic medal since Moscow 1980 the place that they had clinched the gold medal.
“It depends how they regroup and how they keep the spirit high. They have to stay motivated, it’s purely an individual thing,” stated the star dribbler of yesteryears.
Kumar, nonetheless, believed that India have improved so much within the current previous by bolstering their defence.
“We have a balanced squad at the moment. We are no longer leaking goals at the last minute. Our defence is much better now.”
“We have some good drag-flickers in Rupinder Pal Singh and Simarnjeet Singh. The forwards just need to combine a bit more and show ball anticipation.”
Kumar, who was a Mohun Bagan legend having mesmerised the Kolkata public along with his artistry within the early ’70s, continues to be enamoured by the ‘City of Joy’.
“I used to be so thrilled that I left my B Com exams halfway to play alongside the legends of the nation in Mohun Bagan,” recalled Kumar.
“There were greats like Shahid Noor, Inam-ur Rahman, Gurbux Singh and Vece Paes who were playing for Mohun Bagan then. It’s a decision I won’t regret,” he stated.
From 1969, Ashok Kumar performed for 3 seasons at Mohun Bagan, a golden period throughout which they received the primary division hockey league 4 occasions in a row, moreover profitable the coveted Beighton Cup twice.
“They (Mohun Bagan) have been extremely impressed by my expertise on the University video games and had despatched me a proposal letter.”
“I made my national debut from Mohun Bagan and went on to represent the country at the Olympics. I will always cherish this award as Mohun Bagan is like my second home,” he stated. PTI