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Inexperience may cost the team: Dhillon

May 03, 2004 18:31 IST

A day after being excluded from a pool of 30 Olympic hopefuls, striker Baljit Singh Dhillon on Monday said the Indian Hockey Federation's attempt to ignore senior players and blood youngsters in the mega event could cost the country dearly.

"They should not take chances in the Olympics by picking youngsters, who lack international exposure. It's quite tough at the highest level and there is a big gulf between the senior and junior matches," Dhillon said.

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"I don't think the inexperienced players have the temperament of playing in big matches. They may not able to handle the pressure. You can't replace experienced players in the Olympics with junior ones. It may cost the team a lot."

Dhillon, who has so far played over 300 international matches in a career spanning over a decade, blamed coach Rajinder Singh for his omission.

"I played fairly well in the Azlan Shah Cup, Test series against Holland and the Olympic qualifiers. I am also completely fit. I don't know why I was not picked. It's beyond my comprehension. May be the coach (Rajinder Singh) does not want me in the side," the 30-year-old said.

"I don't think fitness was the criteria for selection. I can very well meet the need. I have played in tough conditions over the years. Even in the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid, we played in sub-zero conditions," he said.

Dhillon, who was not part of the experimental side that played two tournaments in Australia last month, said just a few days back IHF secretary Jothikumaran and coach Rajinder Singh had asked him to be ready for a call.

"They said that just be fit as we may call you at any moment. But to my utter surprise I never got the call. Rather they ignored me both for the fitness camp in Barog and the four-nation tournament in Japan. I don't understand why they did it to me," he said.

Dhillon as well as two other seniors -- Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Saini -- were not included in an 18-member "experimental" side to play in Japan and did not feature among the dozen names for the fitness camp in Barog starting May 10.

IHF chief K P S Gill told reporters in New Delhi on Sunday that the probables for Olympics would be picked from these 30 players but added that one or two players could be considered from outside this pool.

"I don't know what's in store for me. But I am keeping my fingers crossed," Dhillon said.

Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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