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Hockey team awaits Ayyapa's arrival
September 11, 2003 20:12 IST
There was a sense of relief in the Indian hockey camp in Delhi with the arrival of defender Dilip Tirkey, but the wait is still on for Len Ayyapa even as it was announced that the squad for the Asia Cup will be named on Friday.
Dilip Tirkey arrived last evening and took part in the training session this morning at the National stadium, but ''we have no news about Len Ayyapa", Indian Hockey Federation spokesman Suresh Sharma said.
Ayyapa, who is playing for the Anderson Club in the Malaysian League, has reportedly left for Delhi but unless he arrives tonight or by tomorrow morning he will not be considered for the selection.
Ayyapa was in the 22-member team for the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, but was left out of the final squad when it was pruned to 18. He was also among the probables for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
On the third day of the camp, the probables had only one session.
The team will be announced tomorrow afternoon after the arrival of the IHF secretary K Jothikumaran, who has gone to Ludhiana to inquire about the health of Jugraj Singh.
Meanwhile, chief coach Rajinder Singh said, ''All the players are fit and have trained hard.'' He said emphasis in the camp has been on the conversion of penalty-corners and on scoring the field goals.
The coach said though it is difficult to find a replacement for Jugraj Singh in such a short time, five to six players have been shortlisted to fill in.
Rajinder admitted that team is missing Jugraj, but added, ''We have to plan for the future, for the Asia Cup, which is very inmportant for us and then for the Olympic qualifier.''
He said while looking for Jugraj's replacement ''we are not only looking for a drag flicker but also for a competent defender".
The coach said, ''We have worked on our grey areas and will further try to improve our goal-scoring abilities.''
Rajinder also explained that he is not against media covering the camp. ''I just wanted that players should not be distrbed while doing their training and I don't think it is wrong.
''Players earlier used to speak to the press during the camps and tournaments which affected their performance in crucial matches,'' he said.
He praised the media for giving hockey due prominance and publicity.
''The media -- electronic and print -- has done a great service to the game. Due to the media the players now get noticed and there is a great public intrest in the game."
Rajinder said his advice to the players in the camp was to remain focussed and not to get distracted.
''Our aim is to win the Asia Cup which will get us an automatic berth in the 2006 World Cup.''
The team for Asia Cup will now fly to Chennai on September 17 en route to Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier the team was scheduled to go to Singapore for a four-day practice session but that programme has been cancelled.
Before the start of the tournament on September 21, the Indians will play a practice match against Japan.