Indian hockey legends on Tuesday slammed the national team for its "average" performance in the World Cup where they lost to New Zealand to crash out of the quarterfinal race, saying the debacle has halted the momentum the nation had gained after winning a historic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. India had gone into the showpiece with hopes of finishing on the podium for the first time after the gold medal-winning feat in 1975 but lost to New Zealand in sudden death in the crossover match.
The hosts will play 9th to 16th classification matches on Thursday and Saturday in Rourkela. Member of the 1975 gold-winning team Ashok Kumar said the Indians lacked quality and were far inferior to top nations in all departments of the game.
"The team was given all kinds of support, 6-7 months camp, foreign exposure, top class infrastructure, the best of diets, what else could have been done? And what performance did they give? You cannot even reach the quarterfinals of a home World Cup in front of your fans," Kumar said. "It has to do a lot with the quality of players, ultimately the debacle was due to average players playing average games. That can't win you a World Cup medal," he added.
Former captain Sardar Singh said the debacle was due to the collective failure of the team. "Hockey is a team game. If you want to win a tournament, 14 to 15 players of the squad need to perform at 70 to 80 percent, which was missing in this World Cup," said the legendary midfielder, who is part of the Hockey India selection committee.