In less than 24 hours after that development, HI has advertised on their website, seeking applications to fill the three vacant positions.
“The successful applicant will be engaged by Hockey India/Sports Authority of India on a contract up to 31 December 2024, i.e., to include the Asian Games 2023 and Paris Olympic Games 2024, subject to the satisfactory completion of a six-month probation period,” the advertisement.
The last date to mail applications is February 15.
Reid’s contract was also till the Paris Games, but ended prematurely after heads rolled following India’s failure to qualify for the quarterfinals
THE LIKELY CANDIDATES
HI’s swift response also indicates that the federation is eager to get replacements as soon as possible, with the Asian Games in September this year and the Olympics next year.
Looking at the possible candidates, Pakistan coach Siegfried Aikman is a candidate after his relations with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) soured over non-payment of salary. In case that issue is not sorted out, Aikman will take the PHF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and look for new work opportunities.
When TimesofIndia.com asked him if he is up for a job with Hockey India, Aikman said, “Yes, I will be interested.”
Aikman was in Odisha to watch the World Cup.
The other candidate who could join the race is former India coach and High Performance Director Roland Oltmanswho is currently employed by the Madhya Pradesh government as consultant for the academies in the state.
Oltmans too was in Odisha during the World Cup and was seen mingling with HI officials.
An interesting choice among the foreign coaches, if he decides to apply for the role of chief coach, will be Shane McLeodwho took Belgium to dizzying heights by winning the 2018 World Cup and the Olympic gold in Tokyo.
THE ADVANTAGES OF AN INDIAN COACH
The best bet, however, at this stage will be an Indian coach. One possible candidate is former India coach Harendra Singh. This will also of course depend on his exit clause in his current job as the Chief Coach of the US senior men’s national team and whether HI will be willing to buy that out to bring him back.
But it’s difficult to see Harendra coming in with short-term goals based on conditions like a review of performance after the Asian Games. Harendra, the Indian 2016 junior World Cup-winning coach, took the senior India team to the quarterfinals in the 2018 World Cup. The core of that team was the same as the one that played at the 2023 World Cup.
Harendra is familiar with the Indian hockey ecosystem and unlike a foreign coach, he doesn’t need to acclimatize or know the players. A foreign coach will take time to settle down and travel around to scout young talent. Harendra is well versed with that despite being away in the USA for close to two years now.
But as Harendra has mentioned previously, he would want HI to bring him on board on the same terms and remuneration that are offered to a foreign coach. He would also want long term stability as the Head Coach.
Harendra, who was removed after the 2018 World Cup, was also in Bhubaneswar during the knockout phase of the World Cup.