Indian men's hockey team head coach Graham Reid refused to commit to his future with the men's team after the ongoing hockey World Cup, while goalkeeper PR Sreejesh emphatically put to rest any talk of him stepping down from the national team.
"I have signed a contract through to Paris [2024 Olympics]," Reid said when quizzed about his future, "but we will be reviewing at the end of this [tournament]. The next game is what I am focusing on."
Hockey World Cup: What went wrong for India?
Reid's position as head coach has come under the scanner after a disappointing home World Cup, in which India failed to make the quarterfinal. India lost 5-4 to New Zealand in a shootout after a 3-3 draw on Sunday to bow out of the 2023 World Cup at the crossover (pre-quarterfinal) stage. The host nation will now face South Africa in Rourkela on Saturday, as they look to salvage some pride and finish ninth in the tournament.
Reid guided India to their first Olympic medal since 1980, as the team won a bronze medal in Tokyo in 2021. But they couldn't replicate those highs at this World Cup, as an injury to key midfielder Hardik Singh and captain Harmanpreet Singh's loss of form proved fatal to India's chances.
Goalkeeper Sreejesh, meanwhile, has his sights firmly set on the Asian Games, scheduled for later this year in China. The Asian Games gold medallists directly qualify for the Olympics, and the Indian goalkeeper said it's important to focus preparations towards that already. "Definitely, I am there, don't worry, I am going nowhere," Sreejesh told ESPN when asked if he will be seen at the Asian Games.
"These kinds of matches with Asian countries are very good," the 34-year-old said after India beat Japan 8-0 in Rourkela. "Now, we need to build on it, by playing our best hockey at the required moments, in quarterfinals, semifinals, and big matches like that," the legendary goalkeeper also told ESPN.
India's next assignment will be in the FIH Pro League in March, when they come back to the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela to face Germany and Australia, in what will be stern tests on the road to the Asian Games. For now, it remains to be seen whether Reid will be around to lead the team in those four matches.