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Selectors rue lack of penalty-corner experts

July 14, 2004 19:20 IST

India's dismal penalty-corner conversion ratio is turning out to be a major concern ahead of the Athens Olympics, with the selectors unable to find a suitable replacement for specialist drag flicker Jugraj Singh.

Admitting that penalty-corners play a crucial role in modern day hockey, the selectors said India lacks world class performers in this department and the current team has no one who can step into Jugraj's shoes.

"Now-a-days most of the goals are scored from penalty-corners. We are missing Jugraj Singh badly and that is really unfortunate. Most of the teams have world class penalty-corner experts," selector Gurbux Singh admitted on Wednesday.

"Sandeep Singh and others are quite raw at the moment and will take time to mature," he added.

Another selector Aslam Sher Khan said: "When Jugraj was around we were expecting at least 50 per cent conversion. But now if we score once from five penalty-corners, we are satisfied."

Both Khan and Gurbux, two of the four selectors who would be leaving for Germany later on Wednesday night to watch the 21 probables in action in the July 16-18 four-nation tournament, said that current form and fitness would be accorded top priority in selecting the team for the mega event.

"We can't discuss about the strategy and plans of the teams as that is the duty of the coach and team management. But no doubt we would be picking the best team for Athens," Gurbux, who played in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics, said.

"We have the best available players at our disposal. So we would be selecting the best team."

Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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