1992 Olympics: Indian hockey suffers due to indiscipline (Sports Special)July 20th, 2012 - 7:34 pm ICT by IANS
In a desperate bid to extricate Indian hockey from the quagmire it had sunk into, Balkrishen Singh was brought back to coach the team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
There was far too much disquiet in the Indian hockey and with no other coach worthy enough to take over the national team, the responsibility went fell on Balkrishen, who inherited a bunch of players, majority of whom were young and inexperienced.
Balkrishen was appointed in 1991, just ahead of the inaugural Olympic qualifying tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, where, incidentally, a young Dhanraj Pillay made his international debut.
The Indian team was in such a disarray that it was forced to qualify for the Barcelona Games and almost did not make the grade. A dejected Balkrishen, reduced to tears, was ready to resign.
Finally, it was Malaysia’s largesse that eventually helped India qualify and the echoes of the late night, behind-the-scenes moves were to be heard five years hence when the two teams played out a goalless draw which was a pre-determined result.
Having qualified for Barcelona by the skin of their teeth, it was thought that the team would bounce back and be a serious medal contender. However, the Olympics campaign turned out to be a disaster with indiscipline in the ranks. Balkrishen, a kind soul that he was, could not control the erring players who indulged in late night binges.
On paper, the team promised a lot given the individual talent it boasted, but it never was reflected in the performances. India’s only two wins in the league were against Argentina (1-0) and the lowly Egypt (2-1) while they went down in other three games to Germany (0-3), Great Britain (1-3) and Australia (0-1). Again in the 5-8 placings bracket, India lost the play-off to Spain 0-2, but narrowly beat New Zealand 3-2 to finish seventh.
In the wake of the disastrous outing, Balkrishen stepped down as the coach, never again to be associated with the national team. It was a sad and tragic end to Balkrishen’s hockey career that had seen him rise to pre-eminence as one of the leading coaches in the world.
Indian team: Pargat Singh (captain), Ashish Ballal, A.B. Subbaiah, Jagdev Singh Rai, C.S. Poonacha, Harpreet Singh, Jude Felix, Sukhjit Singh, Shakeel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Darryl D’Souza, Dhanraj Pillay, Jagbir Singh, Didar Singh, Ravi Nayakar, Ajit Lakra.
League - India lost to Germany 0-3.
India beat Argentina 1-0 (Pargat Singh Powar 1).
India lost to Great Britain 1-3 (Jude Felix 1).
India lost to Australia 0-1.
India beat Egypt 2-1 (Jagbir Singh 1; Mukesh Kumar 1).
5-8 classification: India lost to Spain 0-2. 7-8 positions: India beat New Zealand 3-2 (Mukesh Kumar 2; Pargat Singh 1).
Positions: Germany 1; Australia 2; Pakistan 3; The Netherlands 4; Spain 5; Great Britain 6; India 7; New Zealand 8; Malaysia 9; USSR (CIS) 10; Argentina 11; Egypt 12.
(Anand Philar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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