Donít expect miracles


K.K. Poonacha: Hockey coach

Muscat: Former national hockey coach K.K. Poonacha has got a hero's welcome, as he returned to guide the team for a short-stint but has conceded that he has 'no magic wand' to take the team to victory at the Asian Champions Trophy to be held in Doha this month.

Speaking exclusively to Times Sport soon after he arrived, Poonacha said he cannot do much with the team in 'such a short span' but appreciated the request made by Oman Hockey Association (OHA) in asking him to take over the team.

"I really appreciate the efforts of OHA board in asking me to come but do not expect any miracles from me as this is a very short time to prepare the team and in just seven days I don't think I can do much with the boys. All I can do is to give them tips because you have some of the best teams from Asia so it's going to be a challenging task for us," he said.

The Asian Champions Trophy begins in Doha from December 20-27, and Poonacha will travel with the team today.

Last week, in major turn-off events, OHA had first decided to pull out of the championship but later reversed its decision to send the team fearing a possible suspension from Asian Hockey Federation (AGF).

It was then they decided to call Poonacha who previously coached the national side during 2010-11.

"It is important for Oman to participate in this tournament because if they had opted out, then the ramifications would have been severe. So they didn't want to take a chance.

"I know I have to give my best shot but I cannot promise cannot promise anything primarily because of the time gap," he said.

Not a magician
The Indian coach, said he 'never imagined' to make a return. "I had no idea if I would return or not," Poonacha said.

When they (OHA) made that request to me, I didn't want to turn it down but it's quite difficult to set the team in this short span.

"Had I known about this before, I would have done some home work. I don't have a magic want to do a miracle in just seven days," he said.

Oman's dismal show in the recently concluded FIH World Hockey League Round 1 in Doha is a cause of worry for Poonacha.

"It's a worry for any coach taking over the team for a short period. I have not seen the team for the last one year so I cannot judge on their performance," he noted.

In their first match, Oman will play Pakistan on Thursday and according to Poonacha, the game is going to be a great exposure for his players.

"When I met the players on Saturday, I told them they are lucky enough to play against teams like India and Pakistan. This is going to be a great exposure for them. Now a days the hockey level has gone up and our players need to put in a lot of efforts to reach there and it is going to take time," he pointed out.

Speaking about the fitness of his players, Poonacha had this to say: "Most of the players are fit but many of them are not serious about their fitness.

"When they are on the field they do quite a lot of workouts but once they are home they forget about it. If you compare ourselves with teams like India and Pakistan we are nowhere in terms of fitness," he said.

Poonacha has requested OHA to take all the 22 players to Doha as Oman is playing in this championship for the first time.

"It will be a big exposure for the players. For them watching itself will be a learning experience.

"I told the boys not to worry about losing the matches because this is a great championship and all they want is to get exposed and learn more about the game.

"I have asked them to play their own natural game but it is important to keep the fighting spirit," he said.

When asked if he is willing to take up a longer stint with the team, Poonacha who currently coaches Ahli-Sidab said: "The reason why OHA called me is because they have faith in my abilities otherwise once the coach ends his term with the team, he never wishes to return.
"As I said I have my own limitations because of this short contract but if OHA can give me more time, then I am sure I can do well with this team. I know the players and I know what they want. Given a chance, I can put in an effort to put them on top," he added.

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