Hockey: Oltmans replaces Dutch compatriot van Ass as India's coach

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Roelant Oltmans was on Saturday named as India's new field hockey coach, after fellow Dutchman Paul van Ass was removed just five months after taking charge.

The 61-year-old, currently working with Hockey India as its high performance director, will serve as coach of the national team until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The new appointment was confirmed by Hockey India president Narinder Batra after his meeting with Sports Authority of India officials in New Delhi.

"Oltmans has agreed to be the coach until the Rio Olympics and we would want him to continue after that too," Batra told reporters after the meeting.

Oltmans, who coached the Netherlands to the Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the World Cup title two years later, will be the seventh foreigner to coach India in the last 10 years.

Speculation over van Ass' future arose last week when he failed to take charge of an ongoing national training camp and also did not submit reports on the recent World Hockey League in Antwerp, Belgium, where India finished fourth.

The 54-year-old told Indian media last week that he had been fired soon after the league ended and revealed that Oltmans had been asked to take over.

Batra played down the controversy over the sacking and urged Indian hockey to look ahead.

"Coaches come and go," he said. "We want to look ahead and prepare the team for the Olympics. We will talk to Oltmans about the support staff he needs and will give him all possible assistance."

Besides van Ass, the other foreign coaches who have served the Indian team over the last 10 years are Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australians Ric Charlesworth, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh and Germany's Gerhard Rach.

India, who won the last of their eight Olympic men's field hockey gold medals at the Moscow Games in 1980 - boycotted by the West - qualified for Rio by winning the Asian Games title last year.