Tokyo 2020: 'We have to trust coach Graham Reid' - Former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha on India's team selection | Olympics - Hindustan Times

Tokyo 2020: 'We have to trust coach Graham Reid' - Former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha on India's team selection

ByKaran Prashant Saxena
Jul 23, 2021 12:04 PM IST

Tokyo 2020: India are with a relatively inexperienced forward line with Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh being included, while Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, and Ramandeep Singh miss out.

When asked about the reasons behind the team selection, during a virtual media call earlier this month, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, India men's hockey coach Graham Reid refrained from going into specific details. While on paper, India are entering the multi-sport event with one of the best looking defence line-ups, the front line appears to be a little inexperienced.

Hockey India men’s team coach Graham Reid.(Hockey India)
Hockey India men’s team coach Graham Reid.(Hockey India)

Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh were included in the 16-man squad travelling to Tokyo, while Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, and Ramandeep Singh missing out. "I don't like to comment on specific selections," Reid said when asked about Akashdeep's absence.

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The coach, though, did specify that the heat factor in Tokyo and the fitness levels of players were some of the important criteria that determined the team's selection. But can India go on further in the competition with this forward line?

Former India captain Viren Rasquinha believes that Indian fans need to trust the judgement of the experienced coach. (Tokyo Olympics Full Coverage)

"It's not easy to replace the combined experience of Akashdeep, SV Sunil, Ramandeep. Between the three of them, they have played 400 matches for India. That is a huge amount of experience and they have scored tons of goals," Rasquinha replied to a question posed by The Hindustan Times during a virtual media call organised by Sony Sports Network.

"As I mentioned earlier, maybe the lack of experience in the forward line may be a bit of a problem. But knowing Graham Reid, he bases his team selection on current form, fitness, teamwork, and the ability to take a load of six-seven matches in 10-11 days. Also the ability of players to adapt to different players," he added.

"So, I am sure he knows what he is doing. Graham has got the team that he wants. I am sure he must have seen players like Shamser playing, Gurjan, Mandeep, Dilpreet - they all deserve their places. They are playing for quite a while - very experienced, very strong. Maybe, Shamser Singh selection was one surprise. We have to trust the coach over here. Graham Reid is former Olympic coach himself, he has been an international coach for many years. He knows what is best for the team and we must trust the judgement of the coach," the former India midfielder said.

Reid took over India's team as head coach after the sacking of Harendra Singh after India's exit from the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup, losing to The Netherlands in the quarterfinals. Since taking over, Reid has led the Indian team to wins over Belgium, Netherlands, Australia and Argentina.

On being asked how the former Australian coach has changed the team, Rasquinha said that Reid has focused on both the defensive and attacking aspects of the game to create a more polished team.

"Graham Reid is a very experienced coach. He has coached some of the top teams in world hockey. He has coached the Australian men's national team. He understands what modern hockey is all about. He is an Olympics medal winner himself as a player. He is one of the world-class coaches in the game at the moment," he said.

"He has done a good job with the team - understanding the team spirit, playing the bond which we play, we play as a team - in a proper structure. The players understand the structure, focusing on a lot of strong defence and midfield. Ensuring we have numbers in defence, and also throwing numbers in attack.

"He was a part of the Australian set-up where they continue attacking, but understand that they need to come back to get numbers in defence. Graham understands the importance of goalscoring in modern hockey. But he is also of the philosophy, it's always good to attack but also equally important to defend. He has done good job, so it will be interesting to see how it works out at the Olympics," he signed off.

(Watch the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 2 channels starting 23rd July.)

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    Karan Prashant Saxena is a reporter/writer/editor, who specialises in sports. His primary areas of interest include football, Olympics sports, and pro-wrestling. When not working, Karan spends his time reading, travelling, and pondering on the question - What If?

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