New Delhi, October 23: Australian great Ric Charlesworth, who was a former technical director of the national team, believes Indian hockey is on the right path and that the country has made significant gains in the last three to four years.
Eyebrows were raised when title favourtites India lost to Malaysia in the Asian Games semifinals in Jakarta recently.
But Charlesworth considers the Asiad debacle more as an aberration and said India can surely earn a podium finish in the Hockey World Cup which will be held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.
"Three-four years ago, I was not so optimistic. Now, I see a revolutionary change in the way the players think about their game. You have made two Champions Trophy final in the last two years and in the last one, India actually played better than Australia (before losing in shoot-out)," Charlesworth told PTI news agency on the sidelines of a function in the national capital recently.
Have had a day like no other! Back home and straight into the company of four sports legends @Mo_Farah , @ABdeVilliers17 @Kasparov63 and Ric Charlesworth.. don’t miss a special on what makes a true sports champ on @IndiaToday tv.. coming soon! pic.twitter.com/XooY7soGsj— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 20, 2018
Chasing Perfection: Garry Kasparov, Mo Farah, AB de Villers, Ric Charlesworth on Greatness https://t.co/t5EMddH4ns— Newsclick (@newsclickin) October 22, 2018
"And now you see the progress. If you look all round the field, the players are now more confident of themselves. They know their game and their rivals. They know they (players of other top teams) have two arms and legs like them and they are capable of beating them. Mentally they have become tougher, so all of that adds up to make a more reliable and consistent team," he added.
Charlesworth, a World Cup winner both as a player and coach, has been a vocal critic of Indian hockey, especially its governance. Fed up with the system, he could last only 10 months as technical director of Hockey India almost a decade ago.
Though changing of coaches is still a frequent phenomenon, Charlesworth gave his thumbs up for incumbent Harendra Singh, who he hopes will stay on at least till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"Making too many changes is never a good idea. You only have to look at Terry Walsh and Roelant Oltmans (who both were sacked) and say they did a good job with the Indian team. But in the end, you need a team of coaches and there Indians need to get involved. Harendra Singh in my opinion is a good coach," he said.
The 66-year-old also gave credit to Hockey India League for revitalising the game in the country.
"The Hockey India League changed things. The fact that Indians players were playing with international players on a regular basis helped them a lot," he added.