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The last mile hurdle for Indian hockey (10/15/2018)
--s2h team
Till a decade ago, Indian hockey was suffering from a deep rooted malaise, malaise of conceding late goals and thus getting knocked out of knock-out stage of major tournaments. With the induction of competent coaches, most of them imports, India largely overcame it to a satisfactory level. Spaniard Jose Brasa, who is genuinely the first foreign coach of Indian men's hockey team, started the process with measurable success.

It cannot, though, be said the shortcoming had been overcome completely, especially against the backdrop of what transpired in the men's semifinal of the Jakarta Asian Games. India was leading by a solitary goal margin till 90 seconds before conceding an equalizer that turned the Indian campaign Topsy-turvy. However, what worries Indian hockey recently is the emerging trend of losing the finals, meaning the most important match of any tournament.

When any country reaches the final of a global tournaments, be it continental or otherwise, the progress needs to be appreciated. That's why India's Silver at Breda, Jakarata, and now Buenos Aires comes in for commendation.

This is for the record.

If one looks deeply and analyse, the winners mostly are not huge pre-tournament favourites, and were dark horse. For genuine reasons, India was expected to do better than the ultimate winners. The battery of recent dark horses includes Japanese men and women in Jakarta, Malaysian men in Buenos Aires to quote a recent instances.

India has invested immensely across all age groups, had the benefit of best of international exposures and incentives.

Therefore India is considered a force to reckon with in the global arithmetic. It stood to the billing in Lucknow, and now its seems an aberration rather than routine.

However, India teams, both men and women, could not do an Argentina, Japan or Malaysia.

Year 2018 is really eye-opener for India to introspect to bug the trend as quick as possible.

Despite being in the final on many occasions, including recent Youth Olympic Games and Sultan of Johor Cup, not to speak of events in New Zealand, Indonesia and The Netherlands, India could not break the last barrier.

That this trend exist across all tournaments and all age-group must worry the Indian think tank.

Whys is that India failed in all the shoot-outs (zero out of three in Men's section), lost the finals in Malaysia, Argentina and Japan and elsewhere need a thorough introspection.

There is no substitute for Gold.

Silver, Bronze and even good performance in the run up are good indicators of the future. But GOLD is the symbol of supremacy.

India is not therefore supreme either in FIH tournaments, which is a tough task, or Continental tournaments, even in invitational arena.

There is no easy way out: like changing and chopping coaches or support staff.

Something is glaringly lacking in our sporting ethos and it needs to be diagnosed, and remedies applied. Sooner or later.

Some vital stats:
Indian men loses Champions Trophy final
Indian men loses semifinal at Jkarta
Indian Youth lose final of YOG
Indian U-21 team lose the final of Sultan of Johor Cup
Indian girls lose the final of Asian Games
Indian girls lose the final of YOG

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