For many, the writing is on the wall where Michael Nobbs' reign as India's hockey coach is concerned.
According to an Indian Express report, Hockey India has decided that a failure to win the Asia Cup next month will result in the Australian being sacked — with his assistant MK Kaushik ready to take over.
India failed to book a place in the World Cup via the World League semifinals, so the only way to now qualify is by winning the Asia Cup. The pressure on Nobbs is pretty high, especially with Hockey India giving him near complete control in the team's affairs — a right that his predecessors cannot boast of.
"The amount of money that has been invested and the kind of returns that we have got hasn't pleased many. Asia Cup could be the final tournament for Nobbs to prove his worth, or else he could be out, and if that happens, Kaushik will be the front-runner to replace him," a Hockey India source was quoted as saying in the report.
Even Roelant Oltmans, HI's high performance director admitted that the results under Nobbs haven't been satisfactory and that he will ask for an explanation of why this has happened.
Kaushik's inclusion in the support staff also adds to the pressure on Nobbs. Having a member who is favourite to replace you in the same management team isn't a huge morale booster. Kaushik has a mixed reputation — he was cleared of charges made by a few women players of sexual harassment while he was coach of the women's team — but he also led India to the 1998 Asian Games gold.
Kaushik was quoted in the report as saying: "It's a pleasant surprise. I have wanted to return to coaching for a long time and I am glad that Hockey India has offered me this role. At this moment, though, I am exactly clear about my role. Once the appointment is made official, I will sit down with the rest of the coaches and officials from Hockey India and discuss with them."
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