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Injuries hampered us a lot: Rajinder
April 27, 2004 11:41 IST
Their most disastrous showing in the recent past notwithstanding, Indian hockey team coach Rajinder Singh put up a brave front saying not much should be read in the defeat of his "experimental team."
"It is an experimental team with lots of youngsters. To add to this we had injuries to three of our key players. Even then I am satisfied with the overall performance," he told reporters at the Indira Gandhi International Airport after the team's arrival from Australia in the wee hours on Tuesday.
India, who were the defending champions of the double-leg four-nation cup hockey championship, lost to South Africa by a solitary goal on Sunday to finish at the bottom.
Rajinder said the youngsters played well through out the tournament but their were some mistakes here and there which cost them the matches.
"Barring the one match against Malaysia, which we lost 3-0, we played good hockey but the result were not shown on the scoresheet.
"The youngsters in the side showed good promise but could take some time to achieve the international standards," he said.
The Indian coach was, however, confident that the team would get back to its winning ways before the Athens Olympics to be held in August.
"It has been our problem that we win smaller tournaments before the big one and do not play to our potential when it matters the most.
"But this time we are sure that we will perform well in the Olympics, which is our main target."
Asked whether the senior member like Dhanraj Pillay and Baljeet Singh Dhillon would be making their comeback in the four nation tournament in Holland in July, Rajinder did not commit himself saying it would depend on their fitness.
"If the senior players are fit then I will have no problem in giving them a chance," he said.
Star forward Gagan Ajit Singh admitted that it was the team's worst result ever since he started playing in the national squad but attributed the dismal showing to injuries to key players.
"Three of our key players were injured and this hampered us a lot. This is an Olympic year and we will have guard against injuries," he said.
The Punjab Police player said the frequent chances in the side had also affected the coordination of the team but supported them saying experimentation was also essential.
"When chances are made frequently it does affect the team but experimentation is also needed," he said.