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Azlan Shah probables list overhauled

December 10, 2003 19:21 IST

The Indian Hockey Federation sprang a surprise on Wednesday when it named a new chief coach and overhauled an earlier probables list for the Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia, early next month.

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The new 25-member list, announced in Bangalore by IHF president K P S Gill, excluded several senior players including captain Dilip Tirkey, strikers Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur and many regular members of the side.

Chief coach Rajinder Singh, under whose stewardship India won four major titles this year, will accompany the team to Malaysia as an observer and junior coach Harinder Singh will take his place.

"The idea is to give exposure to some of the juniors ahead of India's participation in the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid next year," Gill told reporters.

Gill also indicated that the IHF would pick junior players for the upcoming three-match Test series against the visiting Dutch side which will serve as an "important preparatory series for the Olympic qualifiers".

"We have to have two or three players for each position because of possibility of injury on and off-the-field. The juniors are very good and extremely talented. What they lack is exposure, experience and temperament in playing in big matches," he said.

"The important task is to qualify for the Olympics," he added.

The new list includes Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Baljit Singh Saini, all of whom were "rested" after the Asia Cup; Len Aiyappa, Ignace Tirkey, Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Michael, who are regular members of the Indian team.

The major reshuffle means India will be sending a second-string team to the Azlan Shah tournament, considered as one of the most prestigious hockey meets in the world.

India had pulled out of the last edition in protest against the ill-treatment meted to some of the country's IT professionals in Malaysia.

The probables for the tournament will assemble for a camp in Hyderabad on December 15. The team will leave for Malaysia on January 4.

The probables:

Goalkeepers: Kamaldeep Singh, Adrian D'Souza, Kutappa.

Full-backs: William Xalxo, Harpal Singh, Len Aiyappa, Sandeep Singh.

Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, V S Vinaya, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Kumar, Igance Tirkey, Bipin Fernandez, Baljeet Saini, Prabhdeep Singh.

Forwards: Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandekar, Adam Sinclair, Baljit Dhillon, Rajpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Sandeep Michael, Dhanraj Pillay and Girish Pimpale.

Officials: Harinder Singh (Chief Coach), Clarence Lobo (Coach), Ramandeep Singh (Coach), A B Subbaiah (Goalkeepers Coach) and Saju Joseph (Trainer).

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