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Rajinder slams his players
September 16, 2003 20:56 IST
All is not well with the Indian hockey team as it readies to launch its campaign in the Asia Cup later this week. Chief coach Rajinder Singh says the players are "discontented and lacking concentration".
A visibly peeved Rajinder admitted there are problems in the team and also blamed the media for creating "unnecessary hype".
"There is discontentment among players regarding endorsements. There is a feeling that some players are getting good contracts while others are not. It is affecting the team," the coach told reporters at Delhi's Shivaji Stadium, where the team underwent its final training session before leaving for Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday for the September 21-28 Asia Cup event.
Rajinder said the media has created a lot of "hype" about the game and the players by its "24-hour coverage".
"It is good that media is supporting the game but at the same time so much publicity is affecting the attitude of the players.
"They have started feeling they are heroes. There is nothing wrong in that but they should perform to justify their hero status," he said.
Taking a swipe at some of the senior players, he said they should become politicians as they are good talkers.
Rajinder, a former Olympian, also partly blamed lack of concentration on the part of the players for theChampions Trophy debacle.
"Most of the time they were doing phone-ins and other stuff. They were distracted; during rest time they were talking to the media as also during the training. They could neither take rest or train properly," he said.
The coach, in an unusual outburst, also slammed those who made "immature" statements pertaining to his tenure being reportedly snapped during the Champions Trophy.
"The team did reasonably well in my tenure except for the Champions Trophy. And after just one match in Holland there were reports which suggested that I may be sacked. It was very immature," he said, while admitting such reports did create unwanted pressure on him.
He said all talk about bringing in foreign coaches held little meaning unless the team "improves its basics".
"You can call ten coaches but I can challenge they will not be able to give results because the basics of the team needs to be improved. One can take the example of Malaysia's German coach, Paul Lissek. What has he done in the 4-5 years?"
The former defender, known for his guts on the field, also stoutly justified the team selection for the Asia Cup.
"The best players in the country are there in the team. Those who have not made it is because they are either not fit or are not up to the level required for international hockey.
"Those sitting out have not done their homework and not made enough efforts. There is not a single good player who is not in the team," he emphasised.
Rajinder also said the players in the national squad are taking their places for granted.
"There is no competition for places in the side and players have become a little complacent. What we need is a strong second line-up."
On the criticism that Sameer Dad was ignored despite his impressive credentials, he said, "He is not fit to be in the team.
"We gave him [Dad] three chances but he failed to prove his fitness. We can't keep on calling him again and again. Lazarus Barla did not impress in domestic hockey and even in the National Games  he did not play well," the coach said.
He also sought to brush aside suggestions that he is not rotating the players well during matches and not giving enough chances to youngsters.
"The youngsters gain experience even if they are sitting on the bench. They will be given chance... if not now then may be two or three years later when they are ripe for international hockey.
"We cannot test players in events like the Champions Trophy, but we will test them during the Asia Cup," he said.
The coach said the absence of Jugraj Singh is a big setback for the team and there can be no substitute for the talented youngster.
"Jugraj is the world's best drag flicker. I would rate him better that even Sohail Abbas [of Pakistan]. There can be no player who can take his place. But the trio of Didar Singh, Dilip Tirkey and Baljit Singh Dhillon will employ variations to make up for Jugraj's absence."