Hockey India removed Harendra Singh as the coach of Indian senior men’s team on Wednesday. According to the press release, the decision was taken after a meeting of Hockey India High Performance and Development Committee on Monday, which was attended by Chairman Dr. RP Singh and members including Olympians Harbinder Singh, B.P. Govinda and Syed Ali. The release stated that Singh was given back the charge of the Junior Men’s team, "with a vision and emphasis on building a strong player base ahead of the 2021 Junior World Cup and the 2020, 2024 Olympic Games." Harendra is the 25th coach of the men’s hockey team who has been sacked in as many years, and the sixth in last six years.
The national body invited applications for the position of the Chief coach of the Men’s Hockey Senior team which will be returning to the training camp in February 2019 for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup starting March 23, 2019. Until the appointment of a new boss, Hockey India High Performance Director, David John and current Analytical Coach, Chris Ciriello will oversee the team.
Under Singh, India managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Hockey World Cup, after topping in the group stage. But the side failed to make it into the semifinals after going down 2-1 against the Netherlands. After the defeat, Singh had slammed the referees at the press conference. "My warrior team can only fight 11 vs 11. But not 13 vs 11," he had said.
Singh was reprimanded later by International Hockey Federation for his conduct. As per the release, the FIH Technical Delegate held Singh guilty of breaching Level 1, 2.2 k of Code of Conduct which deals with "public criticism of, or inappropriate public comment in relation to an incident occurring in an International Match or any Participant or team participating in any International Match or FIH, generally, irrespective of when such criticism or inappropriate comment is made".
Harendra was appointed as the senior side’s coach in May 2018, after the side’s disappointing run at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast under coach Sjoerd Marijne. Under his guard, India went on to win the Bronze medal at the Asian Games, and then followed it up with a gold at the Asian Champions Trophy. At the World Cup, India finished in the sixth position.
"It is completely unprofessional from Hockey India. With less than two years to go for the Olympics, this is the last thing India needed. But seeing the trend (of changing coaches frequently) it is not a surprise anymore. You can’t expect the team to win like this," former India captain Zafar Iqbal told PTI. "Even Germany lost in the semi-finals but that doesn’t mean their team was bad," said Iqbal.