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Adrian ready to defend the Cup
Deepti Patwardhan |
June 15, 2005 17:44 IST
He played in the Athens Olympics and saved Sohail Abbas' drag flicks. Now Adrian D' Souza is also soaring steadily in the junior circuit.
The goalkeeper was named India's captain for the Under-21 hockey World Cup in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, from June 29 to July 10.
"I don't find the pressure as much," said the 21-year-old over phone from Hyderabad.
"It does help to be the goalkeeper and the captain. You are the only player who can scan the field and get the whole view. Since you are not always running or actively involved in the game all the time you know where the players are going wrong or whether you need to change the strategy.
"I think, as a captain, I will have to be the middleman between the players and the team management," he said.
India, which won the last edition of the junior World Cup in Hobart in 2001, has been drawn with Egypt, Holland and Poland in Group D for the tournament.
"Being defending champions doesn't put added pressure on us. Rather, the other teams will be well aware that they cannot take us lightly. We have proved to be a very good team and will have to be consistent. I don't think we can afford any bad days since we have also been drawn in a tough pool," Adrian added.
The junior team had an intensive 40-day preparatory camp at the Gachibowli stadium in Hyderabad. The camp was supervised by coaches Harinder Singh and Clarence Lobo and the trainer, Dr Saju Joseph.
The probables also played practice matches with the India seniors before they left for the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia last month.
"In the last 40 days we have really improved our fitness. That has been the gray area for a long time now. But Dr. Joseph has worked hard on us; we also had video sessions twice or thrice every week to chart our progress."
The team is almost the same that won the six-nation tournament in Poland in 2003 and the Junior Asia Cup in Pakistan last year. Adrian believes that the team will thus be able to operate smoothly as a unit.
"The team is well-balanced and each department understands the other well. So it all depends how things work out during the match. But I am confident we will come up with a good show."
Prior to the tournament, the team will participate in a four-nation tournament at Bilboe, Spain, from June 17-19 and train in Germany for a week.
Besides India, Holland, Chile and hosts Spain will compete in the four-nation championship.
"It will be good match practice for us. Also two of the best teams playing in the tournament will also get us ready for the World Cup," Adrian explained of the team's itinerary before the World Cup.