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Home > Sports > Hockey > PTI > Report

Rajinder defends experimentation policy

May 10, 2004 21:11 IST

Chief coach Rajinder Singh defended theexperimentation with the national hockey team just a few months before the Olympics, saying it has broadened the pool of players, who can represent the country in major competitions.

Rajinder is in charge of an 18-member 'experimental' team, comprising 13 members of the junior Asia Cup-winning that will leave for Japan on Tuesday to play in a four-nation tournament.

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"It will be a big test for the youngsters. We may pick three to four players from the team for the Olympics. And for others it would be a huge experience and will come in handy in the junior World Cup," Rajinder told reporters at the National stadium, where the team is training.

"We are grooming them for the future and these experimentations will broaden our players' pool."

He said not much should be read into India's performance while the team continues to try out new combinations and tactics.

"Not much emphasis should be given on win or loss while we continue the experimentation. They are secondary. Our main focus is on preparing a winning combination," he said.

"We must give youngsters more chances by making them play such tournaments. They should play at the highest level against tough opponents. It will be a test of their strength, their mental toughness and their attitude.

"They have built up the confidence and now its our turn to sustain it by giving them more and more opportunities."

Talking about drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who could be a replacement for Jugraj Singh, Rajinder said his performance would be assessed in the Japan meet.

"One should not be picked in the team just because he is a good drag-flicker. What if we don't earn a single penalty-corner in a match. We need players who can contribute to the team in different ways. We will take into consideration various aspects of a player while selecting him.

"Sandeep is no doubt a fine player and he proved it in the Junior Asia Cup emerging as the leading goal-scorer. We will see his performance in Japan before taking a decision on him."

Rajinder declined to comment whether mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay would be asked to join the camp at Barog.

Captain of the team for Japan, Ignace Tirkey, one of the seniors players in the team, said that prospect of playing in the Olympics would spur his boys to do well in the competition.

"We are confident against China and Japan. But Korea is a tough side. But I know the youngsters would be raring to do well in the competition as at stake are Olympic berths," said the mid-fielder, who turned 24 today.

He said there is a thin line of difference between senior and junior players with both matching in skill and fitness.

"Maturity is the obvious difference. If one dodges them or tackles them, that may affect their confidence. But that may not happen with the seniors," said the 117-match veteran, who started playing internationals in 2000.

Sandeep Singh said he is ready to grab the opportunity with both hands.

"I would not be missing the chance to prove my mettle at the highest level."

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