Harendra Singh, who was sacked as the national team coach last Wednesday, has indicated at Hockey India’s interference in team selection for the World Cup. In a letter to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India, Harendra has alleged that he was asked to remove the names of three players – Rupinderpal Singh, SV Sunil and Birendra Lakra – after the selection trials on November 5 last year, even though the night before the selectors had agreed to include the trio in the 18-member team.
Harendra was responding to Hockey India’s claim that he was given the freedom to choose the squad of his choice during his nine-month tenure. In the official minutes of the meeting – a copy of which was submitted to SAI on January 7 and is available with The Indian Express – Hockey India’s high performance and development committee, which was chaired by Olympian RP Singh, claimed they gave the coach ‘a free hand to select players for major tournaments.’
Harendra, however, has refuted the claim in his reply dated January 8, saying ‘it is not relevant for World Cup selection’. Last week’s correspondences between the two parties highlight the severe disagreements, especially over senior players, between selection committee and the coaching staff. When reached out, Hockey India did not respond to The Indian Express’ queries. Harendra, too, refused to comment. A SAI official said they are likely to call him for a meeting later this month.