India will need a miracle to reach the semi-finals of next month's World Cup at home because of the power struggle within Hockey India (HI), former Olympians rued on Friday.
Annoyed by the official apathy, Indian players shunned the preparatory camp in Pune, saying they will not return for practice unless they get their match fees for the recently concluded Champions Challenge I tournament.
The former players said the focus of the HI officials was entirely on winning the January 29 elections and needs of the players was their last priority.
"Everything is in turmoil right now. The team doesn't look like a winning combination. Politics in Indian Hockey is getting murkier. The way the whole thing is happening it will be a miracle if our team reaches the semi-finals of the World Cup," said Mir Ranjan Negi.
"The morale of the team is down. There is no concrete planning. Ground is not ready and players are not getting their dues. It seems that HI is not taking the tournament seriously," he added.
Former Olympian and ex-chairman of the ad-hoc selection committee Aslam Sher Khan also echoed the same sentiment.
"HI is more concerned about getting the power back in forthcoming election. Their aim is to win posts in elections, not medals in the tournament. In such a bad scenario how can we expect good performance from our team in World Cup. I have serious doubts that we will reach in the last four," he said.
On the issue of player revolt he said that HI is concerned neither about the game nor the players.
"The command over the Indian Hockey is not in right hands. If right people were given the charge of HI, it could have been the turning point for the national game in India," he added.
Former Olympian Pargat Singh said the players are suffering due the misdeeds of Hockey India.
"The whole emphasis of the officials is to manipulate the January 29 elections in their favour. They are trying to dictate terms as far as the election process is concerned. In all these controversies created by HI the preparation for the World Cup has taken a backstage," said Pargat.
Negi also said that team did not get the best coach because of Hockey India's poor decision making.
"Jose Brasa is not one of the best coaches in the world but yes he has made a difference. Imagine the improvement if we could have got Ric Chalresworth as coach. Look at the Aussie team. Can we match them. No," he said.
Another Olympian and coach Baljit singh Saini said cancellation of four-nation tournament will cost team India a lot as the team has not gone through a 'hard test' in recent past.
"We have not played any strong team like Netherlands and Australia in recent past. We can't judge ourselves playing against Canada, Argentina or England as they are not amongst the strong contender for the World Cup.
"It will be very tough for the team to get a place in semi-final line up without going through the hard test," he said.