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IHF gag on players, coach
September 09, 2003 18:33 IST
The camp for the Asia Cup hockey tournament started at Delhi on Tuesday with the probables "focussing more on the game than anything else" in a bid to avoid any unwanted controversy ahead of the eight-nation meet.
The camp, which was orginally scheduled to start on Monday, was delayed by a day after several players failed to report on time.
And when the camp started this morning neither the players nor chief coach Rajinder Singh were willing to talk to the media, citing a strict Indian Hockey Federation directive.
"We will keep aside a day for media briefing and the media will be informed about it," Rajinder Singh told reporters who had assembled at the National Stadium, venue of for the camp, since early morning.
Sources close to the team said that the step had been taken to prevent any unwanted controversy as India launches its campaign for the Asia Cup, where a title win will ensure it a berth in the 2006 World Cup.
"Many times players say different things without the permission of the coach or the IHF and this creates a lot of problems. This time we are trying to avoid that and want the players to concentrate more on the game," a source said.
The idea to prevent the players from talking to the media during important tournaments or training camps was mooted during the Lucknow camp just before the start of the Champions Trophy.
The players, it seems, did not take the order seriously, prompting the IHF to adopt a sterner stand this time.
IHF has apparently even warned the players that if they talk to the media, it could "cost them a place in the side".
National Stadium security officials have also been accordingly instructed not to allow any reporter or cameraman near the practice area since "it could disturb the players from focussing on the game".
Sources later said the first day of the camp saw the probables undergo extensive physical training under the watchful eyes of Rajinder Singh and fitness trainer Sampath Kumar.
"We are putting emphasis on physical fitness. Few players were injured during the Champions Trophy and one more has just recovered from jaundice," they said.
"Baljit Singh Saini (broken nose) and Ignace Tirkey (ligament injury in the knee) have recovered completely from their injuries. Sandeep Michael (jaundice) is also quite fit."
While most of the players joined the first session of the camp on Tuesday, ace defender and former captain Dilip Tirkey was among a couple of players who are expected to reach the city later in the day.