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Rajinder satisfied with 'experimental' side's showing
May 20, 2004 16:44 IST
India hockey coach Rajinder Singh has expressed satisfaction with the performance of his "experimental" side in the four-nation tournament in Japan and says five or six players from the team could stake claim for a berth in the squad for the forthcoming Athens Olympics.
"It was an experimental side and I am satisfied with their performance," Rajinder told reporters at the Indira Gandhi International Airport after the team's arrival from Japan.
He was all praise for penalty-corner specialist Sandeep Singh, defender William Xalxo and Tushar Khandekar.
"Players like Sandeep Singh, William Xalco and Tushar Khandekar took the opportunity to prove their potential and could stake a claim in the national squad for the Olympics."
The Indian side, consisting mostly junior players, suffered a humiliating 6-1 loss to Asian Games gold medallist South Korea in the final on Tuesday. They, however, defeated hosts Japan and China but lost to the Koreans in the league stage also.
In the women's section, the second-string Indian squad lost all its matches to finish last in the event.
The team's arrival was delayed by over five-and-half hours due to a technical snag in the aircraft which failed to take off from Hong Kong.
Rajinder said the other players from the junior squad also gained valuable experience which would come handy in the campaign during the Junior World Cup.
Asked whether he was disappointed at not getting the same welcome as last year, Rajinder said it is "part and parcel of the job".
"We are trying to create a bench strength and hence the Indian Hockey Federation is sending experimental sides for the tournaments.
"It is obvious that when we return triumphant we get a warm welcome but one should understand that we are taking such steps considering the future prospective."
Assistant coach Harendra Singh said the players proved they have the potential to perform on the big stage by defeating the national teams of China and Japan and such exposure trips would help them gain valuable experience.
"Japan and China had sent their best teams for the championship and hence defeating them was no mean achievement.
Korea had also sent their best squad and we still performed well against them."
Team captain Ignace Tirkey said the team played well throughout the tournament but slipped in the final against the Asian Games champions.
"Had we performed the same way as we did in the league then the final would have been a close encounter."