New Delhi: Senior players Sardar Singh and Manpreet Singh said Friday that having an Indian as the national team’s head coach has broken all communication barriers and tactically too Harendra Singh is no less than any of his foreign counterparts.
Harendra, who was appointed in May, coached India to a second straight runners-up finish at the Champions Trophy last month.
“I still remember Harendra paaji had called me to a national camp 15-16 years ago. We go back a long way. I played under him even when he was assisting Jose Brasa in 2009,” Sardar told this agency.
“It is a different feeling working with an Indian coach. We can discuss anything with him under the sun. He also openly advises us and knows that as senior players we can’t change our game completely,” added the player while taking a soft dig at Harendra’s predecessor Sjoerd Marijne.
There is still time to explain things during training but absorbing coach’s advice during the two-minute break between quarters can be tough. That is where Harendra has made a massive difference.
“If you see he has given results whether at every stage. One big positive (after his arrival) is that we all communicate in Hindi now,” pointed out Sardar.
“With foreigners, even if you miss a single point it can create confusion in the minds of the players. So a language that all understand helps immensely,” said the 32-year-old midfielder.
Sardar’s long-time India teammate Manpreet concurred with the formers view on Harendra.
“Whenever a new coach comes, he has to make sure that we don’t change our styles of play. Our strength has always been attack and counter-attack. Harendra paaji knows how to make best use of speedy forwards like SV Sunil and Akashdeep (Singh),” pointed out Manpreet. “He is a very positive person and that has helped.”
So, has the time come when India can end their obsession with foreign coaches? “I think we can put an end to that practice. You saw how we performed in the Champions Trophy,” asserted Mandeep.
India will be defending their Asian Games title in Jakarta later this month. A gold again will secure them a spot at the 2020 Olympics. Both Sardar and Manpreet are aiming for an encore which will lessen the pain of a medal-less performance at the Commonwealth Games in April.
“We all are thinking about the gold. It secures our Olympic qualification and gives us more time to prepare for Tokyo,” pointed out Manpreet. “Our mindset has changed completely. You must have seen we were unhappy with the Champions Trophy silver. Now we are not satisfied at anything less than gold,” added Sardar.
“Language is indeed of huge importance during the two-minute break between quarters. Now since we all speak in Hindi including the coach, we do not miss out on any information”