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Home > Sports > Column > Mervyn Fernandis

Top three finish possible

August 12, 2003

Mervyn FernandisThe 25thChampions Trophywillbegin from August 16at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, wheretwo decades ago, in the1982,Indiahad itsbest performance by winning the bronze medal at the tournament of elite hockey-playing nations. Yours truly happened to be part of the team that was in the running for the gold before India played itslast match against Australia.

GoalkeeperRomeo James, full-backs Vineet Kumar, Manohar Topno, Rajinder Singh, M M Sommaya, Gurmail Singh, Joaquim Carvalho, Charanjit Singh, Surinder Singh Sodhi, Mohammad Shahid andZafar Iqbal werethen, what you would call,the first eleven. The teamwas not as experienced as the present one, but some superlative performances by full-back Manohar Topno, who was called the 'Black Diamond' by our coach Balbir Singh Sr., Shahid and Rajinder Singh, who incidentally is the coach of the present team,saw us finish among the first three in the world.

Our memorable match was against our arch-rivals, Pakistan. It was one of the best matches I had played in. It was a fast-paced match with both teams playing attacking hockey from the word go. After a heart-stopping battle, we won 5-4. Rajinder scored a hat-trick and emerged the hero of the day. The man willbe in Amsterdamagain, but this time ascoach. One will have to wait andsee if he can perform a hat-trick of wins ascoach, having already tasted successtwice, in thefour-nation tournaments in Australia and Germany recently.

Rajinder SinghThe Champions Trophy has always been the toughest of all international hockey tournaments, as the world's best teams play in a round-robin league.A team has to play six matches in nine days, a gruelling schedule which demandsthat players are in prime physical conditionto survive till the end of the tournament. Initially, the tournament was decided directly on points after the round-robin league was completed, but the past few editions have seen a change, wherein the teams play forfinal placings on the concludingday.

The present team, led by Dhanraj Pillay, is capable of finishingamong the first three. If they can maintain the same standard and percentage while defending and converting penalty-corners,like they did in their outings in Sydney and Hamburgrecently, a medal is theirs for the taking.Never before has an Indian team been packed with four players capable of converting penalty-cornersin various set-pieces.In the ranks are seasoned defender Dilip Tirkey, Kanwalpreet Singh, who are both good direct hitters; the stocky Jugraj Singhand Baljit Singh Dhillon,bothpowerful drag flickers.

The forward line, comprising of Dhanraj,Dhillon, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Gagan Ajit Singh, has been combining well sofar and isexpected to deliver. The midfield is good to the extent of defending but will have to improve indistribution and overlapping, as anextra load seems to fall on the two seasoned campaigners -- Dhanraj andDhillon.

Jugraj SinghThe other worry for the team could be the substitutions in the forward line. Tejbir Singh is the only genuine extra forward in the team. In the absence of Sandeep Michael,whois indisposed, coach Rajinder Singh hasopted for a relatively new player in Didar Singh. In my opinion, it isa gamble to fielda player who has little or no exposure to a seniorinternational tournament. That Rajinderopted for Didar ahead ofothers in the camp who havefar more international exposure speaks of the confidence the coach has in the new player. I guessassistantcoach Baldev Singh will be a happy man, as he has been coaching the Namdhari team in the past and this will be the yet anotherinstance whena Namdhari player has made it to the national team.

If my memory serves me right, the last Namdhari player to make it to the national team,and that too for the Olympics in 1992, wasDidar Singh Sr. We never heard of himafter that. Presently he is the coach of the Namdhari team.

With just a few days to go, the playershave got into some sort of controversy regarding financialmatters, which does not augur well for the team. One hopesthese problems are nowbehind andthefocusis onthe big test ahead. Otherwise, all the excellent work over the last few months would mean nothing.

  • Mervyn Fernandisrepresented India at the 1980, '84 and'88 Olympics. Healso captained Indiaat the junior World Cup in Versailles, France, in 1979.

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Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: message

Mr.Mervyn in his article has rightly suggested about a lack of bench strength in the forward line. How do you attribute to the dropping of ...

Posted by ravishankar.

Sub: comments on mervyn ferns artical on the net

yes i agree with Mervyns comments that the team is likly to be in the first three in the champions trophy. The financial problem is ...

Posted by Nikita Figueirado

Sub: Build your inner strength

Their is nothing to gain know, so why so fear of loosing, Just play the natural game ....,

Posted by prateek

Sub: mervyn's article

The article was very good. Mervyn was a good and stylish player during his time. I used to love his game. you should have put ...

Posted by kailasanathan S



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