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Pillay seeks Athens glory
June 23, 2003 20:00 IST
India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay says he will sign off his international career only after winning an Olympic medal.
"I have played three Olympics and I know that the Athens Olympics next year may be the last of my career. But I can promise fans that I will lead India at least to the semi-finals of the mega event," Pillay said.
Pillay, who was on his way to Germany for a four-nation tournament and a one-off Test series with the hosts, said he is yet to realise two of dreams: winning the World Cup and a medal in the Olympics.
"How can I retire when both my dreams are still unfulfilled?".
The ace forward said his team mates too are desperate to achieve greater glory.
"We have been successful recently because of the co-ordination between team members as we have been playing together for almost two years now. And everyone is eyeing a medal at Athens Olympics," he said.
Confident of breaking the 23-year Olympic medal drought, Pillay said, "At Atlanta we missed it by a point and at Sydney by just one goal. But this time there will be no slip-up. I have a feeling we will make it to the semi-finals at least."
Pillay did not comment on veteran Mukesh Kumar's charge that he was ignored during the twin tournaments in Australia and not given much opportunities, but did admit that the player could have been given more chances.
Insisting there is no ill-feeling among the players, the 34-year-old said, "It is wrong to say that any member is being ignored. The fact is the team has gelled well as a unit and it is a good sign for Indian hockey."
On the team's upcoming assignments in Germany, he said it would have to play to a new strategy there. "In Australia we played classical hockey but in Germany we will have to resort to the European style in which there is a lot of body contact. We are totally prepared to adapt to the situation there."
Referring to the team's weakness of conceding last-minute goals, he said, "We have identified this weak point and have already been working on it. We have realised that it is fatal to crumble under pressure and divert attention to attack rather than defence in the dying minutes. We will now concentrate on dominating the match even in the last five-six minutes."
Pillay said the team is prepared for a good fight in the four-nation tournament as they had been training non-stop in the build-up to the event.
"I am quite hopeful that we will make it to the final of the Hamburg Masters as we are enjoying a very good form."