Mumbai: Former India hockey coach Harendra Singh on Thursday came out in support of current coach Terry Walsh saying the ex-Australia forward was the right choice as the team had improved under him, but cautioned that further progress to medal status would be gradual.
"Terry Walsh has huge experience. He is a world class coach. He mixes science with modern style of hockey. It has played a big role in bringing the result. He knows how to give space to the players and how they can take the decision. Walsh is the right choice for Indian hockey," Harendra said.
"We were in 10th position [and] after World Hockey League, we came to 8th. This is a process. Gradually we will come to top four and can also hope for medals.
India hockey coach Terry Walsh during the Hockey World League Finals in New Delhi. (Hockey India)
"But if we aim to get the gold medal or a silver from our 8th position, then it will be a bit over-ambitious. India will be in the top 4 in the 2018 World Cup [scheduled in India]. It will take some time. We need to be patient," said Harendra.
"Walsh had taken charge one month back and, from 10, he has brought the team to the 8th position [in FIH rankings]. He has still got one year and there is the Asian Games [in Incheon, South Korea, in September-October). The format has changed for Olympic qualifying and the Indian team is improving," he said.
Harendra expected India to finish in the top six in the upcoming World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands. "In this World Cup, top 6 will be right place. In the 2016 Olympics [in Rio de Janeiro], top five should be the target," he remarked.
On the proposal sent by the Pakistan federation to revive the bilateral series with India, Harendra said it will help create a good pool of Indian and Pakistani players.
"I have always said that bilateral series should happen. India-Pakistan matches are such that every Indian and every Pakistani wants to see it. We will be able to create a household name through the bilateral series.
"It will also help in making a pool of Indian and Pakistan players. I hope Pakistan players will also get to participate in the Hockey India League next year, because of which we will get to see colourful hockey," he said, endorsing current Pakistan coach Tahir Zaman's view.
HIL commences on January 25 and Singh said the additional sixth team introduced this year, would have an impact on the league.
"The addition of Kalinga Lancers is one of the things everybody is looking forward to. Last year, out of the five teams, every body knew which four would qualify for the semi-finals. The extra team will create a huge impact in HIL," he said.