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Gill upbeat about Azlan Cup showing

June 07, 2005 16:30 IST

Indian Hockey Federation president K P S Gill does not see any reason to feel "despondent" about the performance of the national team in recent times.

Even the poor fifth-place finish in the just-concluded Azlan Shah Cup was hailed by the IHF supremo, who said the team deserved to play for the bronze medal.

Gill said given the circumstances, the side did "fairly well" in the Azlan Shah Cup and should have beaten teams like Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand.

"Some of the regulars were missing due to injury and some could not be picked because they were suspended on disciplinary grounds," Gill told reporters in Delhi on Tuesday.

"Simultaneously a training camp for junior World Cup players is going on in Hyderabad. Altogether nine players who play regularly for the senior team are attending the camp.

They all are vital players.

"We had to induct other youngsters with many of them playing their first international tournament. They did quite well," the IHF chief said.

Asked why the team has not been able to win a title since the Afro-Asian Games in 2003, Gill said, "I have my views on this. But this [the press conference] is not the right forum to talk on the issue."

Gill sees India's qualification for the Champions Trophy -- direct or by default -- as a confirmation that the team has been performing consistently at the highest level.

"We are consistently qualifying for the Champions Trophy, which is played between the six best teams in the world," Gill said.

India, whose best finish in the elite event was a bronze medal over two decades back, made it to the last edition in Lahore after Australia pulled out at the last moment citing security concerns.

For this year's Champions Trophy, to be held in Chennai, India get an automatic berth being the hosts.

Gill also tried to find fault with the government and said inadequate finance is affecting the promotion of the game though the IHF is doing enough on its part.

"We are encouraging opening of more and more academies, which are coming up. Some are being supported by public sectors and some others by private sector," Gill said.

"But infrastructure is terribly inadequate. To think hockey is our national game and we have only one floodlit stadium in the country.

"We are constantly approaching the government. They have their limitations. Finances are a hurdle."

Gill, whose fate as next IHF president is in a sealed envelope, as per the Delhi high court order, declined to comment on his attempt to retain power for a fourth term.

"The matter is sub-judice, so I cant say anything on it," he said when asked why he contested the elections as he had said on a number of occasions that he would not go for another term.

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