The world is rejoicing the comeback of the once-dominant force to the podium and foreign experts associated with Indian hockey are no different.
Australian great Ric Charlesworth, who was Indian hockey’s technical director, expressed his joy after the Manpreet Singh-led side defeated Germany in the bronze-medal match in Tokyo on Thursday.
“What a wonderful result by India. The medal is well deserved and well earned,” the Australian, who has coached the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos to many big trophies.
Charlesworth said India’s win is good not only for the country but also for the sport itself.
“Of course, I think it’s great for the game and for India. For hockey this is a wonderful outcome… now it is women’s turn to beat Great Britain (for bronze),” he said.
Charlesworth said he was delighted to see how Indian players responded to coach Graham Reid’s plans. “I recommended Graham for the job and believe the players showed great resilience. I’m delighted,” he said.
With the Indian team finding stability now, the Aussie feels India should stick with their coach.
“India should stick with one coach to allow for a team to be developed. Previous coaches were good and have helped India get to this stage but there is more to do,” he said.
Former coach Jose Brasa of Spain, who was not just instrumental in introducing scientific training methods to Indian hockey but bringing goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to the mix, said the world watched India’s comeback to the podium.
“I am very happy to see India win today. If they can carry on the momentum, they will once again start winning gold medals at the Olympics,” Brasa, who coached the Indian team ahead of the 2010 World Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
According to Brasa, Indian team’s fitness has been the X-factor.
“They are as fit as any other top team like Australia, Germany or Belgium. Although Indian players always had skills, they looked polished here and had great control over ball possession in most of the matches. Their fitness was outstanding,” the Spaniard said.
“Also, it was great to see Sreejesh guiding players in the defence. He displayed immense grit at the goal and also used his experience on the field. I feel proud of being part of the think-tank that identified Sreejesh in the early days and promoted him,” he said.
The Australian great too was all praise for the goalie. “He (Sreejesh) was always a great athlete but he is steadier now and handled the challenges in Tokyo well. His performance was terrific,” he said.