Malaysian Iman Gobinathan Krishnamurthy was officially announced the new head coach of the Bangladesh hockey team Tuesday, primarily for a short-term period. His first assignment will be with the national junior side in the Youth Olympics' Asian Qualifiers next month.
The 40-year old coach, who made 190 international appearances during his playing career, arrived in Dhaka Monday night and joined his charges in BKSP Tuesday. Gobinathan was earlier appointed as Bangladesh head coach for nearly two months in the 2014-15 season for the second round of the World Hockey League, which was held in January, 2015.
The Federation of International Hockey Level-3 coach spoke during the press conference at the Bangladesh Olympic Association auditorium Tuesday. "I was here as head coach for around two months before. The players I selected are still playing in the current national team. We have many talented hockey players here. We need lots of practice matches to learn temperament of the game and break the fear barrier to play under pressure."
Gobinathan played as a defender for Malaysia from 1997 to 2004 before starting his coaching career in 2008. He was also the head coach of different Malaysia youth teams (U-16, U-18, U-21) from 2009-2013 before becoming the assistant coach of the senior side on two occasions, including during the Men's Hockey World Cup 2014. He was the head coach of Malaysian women's development team for the past two years.
Gobinathan will have less than a month to prepare the youth team for the Asian qualification tournament of the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, scheduled to be held in Thailand's capital Bangkok from April 25-29. The new coach admitted that "it's tough" to qualify as only two top teams would progress, adding that "time is very important."
Abdus Sadeque, the general secretary of Bangladesh Hockey Federation, said, "We had to bring him in a hurry because Gobinathan has the experience of working with youth teams before." Sadeque added, "We would also discuss how the national team performance can be improved. He suggested to play international or practice matches as many as possible.” The former national hockey star Sadeque also admitted their shortcomings due to infrastructural limitation, as well as not having a full coaching staff, including a permanent video analyst and physio.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board is sponsoring the hockey federation for the expenses of the head coach. BCB's media and communications committee chairman, Jalal Younus, who was also present on behalf of the cricket board, said, "it's not support, but co-operation" to bring back the glory days of hockey in the country. He also pledged to provide more technical support to hockey by providing video analyst or trained physio from BCB.