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Coach Harendra Singh - Reliving the 5 most memorable matches

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
644   //    10 May 2019, 10:35 IST

Harendra Singh
Harendra Singh

Just over a year has passed since Hockey India's sudden and unprecedented coach swap following the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which saw Harendra Singh take charge of the senior men's team as head coach.

Following a playing career that was shortened by internal team wrangles, Harendra took up mentoring at the turn of the century when Indians in the profession were clearly struggling to keep up with the changing times - which necessitated the advent of foreign coaches in order to remain competitive on the world stage.

Waxing and waning fortunes failed to deter the former India international who idolized Zafar Iqbal and Mohammad Shahid - while countering Bihari insults, and numerous downturns, to work his way up the ladder in the echelons of the coaching fraternity.

Harendra Singh, who was keen on ironing out the deficiencies of the women's side following a brave show at Gold Coast in April last year, was suddenly faced with a daunting task.

With three prestigious tournaments lined up in the space of six months, there was scant room for error, but the FIH-certified coach stood his ground and decided to take up the challenge of attempting to ensure podium finishes for the immensely talented but erratic Indian men's team.

The elite Champions Trophy was scheduled at the end of June - just a month and a half from when Harendra took charge.

The Indians had won their first and only silver medal in the previous edition of the same tournament in 2016, and comparisons were bound to be made.

The pressure on Harendra was telling, with the all-important Asian Games coming up after the CT at Breda - and the World Cup scheduled at the end of the year.

A silver medal at Breda - where the Indians outclassed their higher-ranked counterparts was followed by an Asian Games bronze, where a disastrous semifinal loss to Malaysia overshadowed the fluent goal fests of the pool matches.

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Like many before him, the Dronacharya awardee was thrust into the shadows, in spite of an encouraging show at Odisha 2018 - but not before he left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of Indian hockey lovers.

We take a look at Harendra Singh's five most memorable matches as coach.

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