'Don't see Raghunath returning to the national team'

'Don't see Raghunath returning to the national team'

When the Indian hockey coach Roelant Oltmans announced the 33-member core probables for the season, a few eyebrows were raised at the omission of V R Raghunath.

The Karnataka defender has been an integral part of the Indian setup for close to a decade. Be it the 2007 Asia Cup gold, the 2014 Asian Games gold, or the 2016 Champions Trophy silver, the 28-year-old has played a key role in his team’s successes. But Oltmans believed that it is time that Indian hockey moved forward and looked to new stars to lead the team.

“At this moment, we have so many good players coming up, especially in the defence line. And if we don’t give these guys a chance to develop, they’ll never reach their peak by the time we have next Olympics or the World Cup. That is something I have to take into consideration,” Oltmans said stating the reason behind Raghunath’s omission.

“We need to let these guys grow. That’s how the cycle works. The seniors know it, accept it and work hard accordingly.”

Oltmans also stated he didn’t see Raghunath returning to the national fold any time soon. “To be honest, I don’t think that will happen,” he said.

“If an experienced player is not been picked, that’s because there are so many youngsters who are already close in on that level and I expect them to go up in the near future. And we have enough experienced defenders to guide the youngsters. If Raghu was still there, one of these youngsters won’t get an opportunity to develop. And I want these guys to replace the seniors in the coming years,” he reasoned.

So, does this also come as a warning to the other senior guys in the side? “That’s not the reason why we do it. Yes, of course, every senior knows that they will be replaced at some point. That’s a normal process you see everywhere at the start of a new Olympic cycle. Coaches can’t look at just this moment, we have to look at the future. And that’s what’s happened here,” Oltmans explained.

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