By R.M.S. Atwal
JALANDHAR: Jaypee Punjab Warriors’ coach, Barry Dancer, has blamed Indian players’ low fitness level as one of the reasons for the team’s third consecutive loss in the current Hero Hockey India League (HIL). Uttar Pradesh Warriors again humiliated them last night with a 2-1 win.
“I am not happy with the fitness level of players, yes Indian players, that’s why I had to make lot many changes in the second half today and replace tired players with fresh ones,” said Dancer in reply to this correspondent’s question during the post-match Press conference last night. He was accompanied by skipper Jamie Dwyer who also replied to some of media queries.
“We will see how to use them in future matches,” the coach added, hinting at drastic changes in the team composition. Under the rolling substitutions’ rule of modern hockey, during the course of play any team can make as many changes as they like.
This rule favours the players, thus keeping the spectators’ interest alive in a fast-paced game. Modern hockey, unlike yesteryears, is made more television-friendly too. For example, the current hockey league matches are being telecast live throughout the world thanks to Sports Star and ESPN Live.
It may be noted that Punjab Warriors have some key players like international Shivendra Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Gurinder Singh, Gurmail Singh and Dharamvir Singh, among others. The coach said the team management would do lot of serious thinking for the future matches and the players need to freshen up mentally and physically.
The coach admitted that poor finishing in the striking circle and inability to convert penalty-corners were the other reasons for Punjab Warriors’ losses. Out of the four penalty-corners they got today, their success rate was zero. The whole team did play a better game today but failed to click in the striking circle.
Dancer, who has already been the coach of the Australian and England teams, has already emphasised that in modern hockey penalty corner and penalty-strokes conversions play crucial role.
It is worth noting that sometime back, after Punjab’s loss to Delhi, ace India Olympian Pargat Singh had commented on TV that Dancer Barry was ‘not that good coach’ for the home team.
Punjab’s Team Manager, Jagbir Singh, another hockey greats of yesteryears was, however, not available for comments on Dancer Barry’s views on the fitness level of Indian players.