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Pillay, Jugraj get call-up
May 24, 2004 12:06 IST
Last Updated: May 24, 2004 15:26 IST
Ace forward Dhanraj Pillay's hopes of playing in his fourth Olympics received a major boost on Monday with the Indian Hockey Federation naming him in the 26-man probables list for the mega event at Athens.
IHF president K P S Gill, who released the list in Delhi, sprang a surprise by giving penalty-corner expert Jugraj Singh, who was out of action since last September following a near-fatal car accident, a chance to to prove his fitness.
Veteran forward Baljit Dhillon was also included after being ignored for the fitness camp at Barog and a four-nation tournament in Japan. However, experienced midfielder Baljit Singh Saini and promising forward Tushar Khandekar were overlooked.
Gill, who ruled out any changes to the probables list, however, did not say when the 16-member squad for the Olympics would be named.
He said the probables will attend three training camps -- in the United States, The Netherlands and Germany – besides playing in a couple of four-nation tournaments in the build-up to the Games.
Goalkeepers: Devesh Chauhan, Kamaldeep Singh, Adrian D'Souza.
Defenders: Dilip Tirkey, Kanwalpreet Singh, Sandeep Singh, Jatinder Pal Singh, Jugraj Singh, William Xalxo, Harpal Singh.
Mid-fielders: Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillay, Ignace Tirkey, Bimal Lakra, Vivek Gupta, Sunil Yadav.
Forwards: Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Gagan Ajit Singh, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Michael, Adam Sinclair, Inderjeet Singh and Hari Prasad.
Chief coach: Rajinder Singh
Coach: Harendra Singh
Goalkeeping coach: M R Negi
Trainers: Saju Joseph and Sampath Kumar.
Gill declined to comment on the IHF's decision to ignore Khandekar, who had earned a lot of praise from chief coach Rajinder Singh just a few days back for his showng in the junior Asia Cup triumph and Japan tournament.
"We are not here to talk about individual players," said Gill.
The IHF supremo, however, was more forthcoming on the decision to name Jugraj as a probable.
"Our only drawback, what we feel, is the injury to Jugraj Singh. This made us alternate our planning and make changes to the scheme of things. He is now shaping up well. I can't say whether he will be fit for Olympics, but the recovery he has shown is tremendous."
Gill also tried to justify the move to cut short the fitness camp at Barog and the wholesale changes to an earlier plan under which the team had to undergo training in Germany only.
"The camp at Barog was not abruptly ended. The players need some time to get their travel documents done. So it was shifted to Delhi.
"As far as the camp in US is concerned, it (the decision) was not made at the eleventh hour. We were trying to get the best institute available in the world for the players. We had two-three places in mind -- Germany, Australia and the US. We finalised in favour of the US since we can send a larger number of players there."
According to the new programme, as announced by Gill, the players would go to the United States for a 21-day training at the Athlete's Performance Institute at Tempe, Arizona State,
"which is one of the best in the world".
After the training in the US, the players would attend a three-day camp at Amsterdam before playing a four-nation tournament, between June 25 to July 4, involving Pakistan, Australia and Germany.
The team will return home for five days' rest on July 5 before going to Dusseldorf, Germany, for a four-day training camp. The team will then play a four-nation tournament featuring Germany, Great Britain and France at Dusseldorf between July 16 to 18.
After 19 days of training in Germany, the team will go to Athens on August 7.
Overall, before the Olympics, the team will have training camps lasting 47 days besides the competition period of 30 days.
"These camps will deal with the fitness as well training aspect," Gill said, adding that the 77 days of training and competitions is unlikely to unsettle the players before the mega event.
"We have taken the decision after discussions with fitness experts," he said.
Gill said German coaches Oliver Kurtz and Gerhard Rach would be joining the team in the United States.
"Kurtz and Rach would be alongside our coaches in Arizona," Gill said, adding that a penalty corner expert would also join the players in the camp in Germany.
Gill left the door open for speculation on hiring the services of a foreign coach for the Olympics when he said "Rajinder and one more coach would go to Athens", but declined to say whether the second coach would be an Indian.
"The decision would be taken later."
Gill admitted that preparations for the Olympics were delayed by the general elections.
"Last three-four months, we could do no work due to the elections. All these had to be done (in consultation) with the government and Sport Authority officials. But after that we have tied the loose ends."
Gill also did some media bashing, accusing journalists of disturbing the players at camps.
"Of course, media disturbed the camp at Barog. Germany, Holland all are training behind closed doors. But here the cameras can shoot Sandeep Singh taking penalty-corners."
The IHF supremo was optimistic about the team doing well in the Olympics.
"We have a very good chance in the Olympics. We can win a medal there. Once you get into the semi-finals, it's anyone's game."
Gill said the cost of conducting training camps and playing in competitions abroad would be borne by the government and team sponsor Sahara.