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Hockey team optimistic of good showing
August 24, 2006 17:28 IST
The Indian hockey team has recovered from the shock of losing injured drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's services for the World Cup and is positive about its prospects in the quadrennial event, chief national coach V Bhaskaran said on Thursday.
Sandeep was ruled out of the World Cup after sustaining an accidental bullet injury in a train compartment while travelling to Delhi earlier this week.
Also read: 'Sandeep's absence is a huge blow'
"Obviously, it was a bad news for all of us. But it is part of life. Everybody has recovered from it, and we are positive about the tournament," Bhaskaran said hours before the team's departure for Germany.
Asked if Sandeep's absence would affect India's chances at the World Cup, Bhaskaran said the team would definitely miss the young player's services.
"I won't say it will affect our chances. But, of course, we will miss him in Germany," he said.
Bhaskaran, who led India to the last of its eight Olympic gold medals at Moscow in 1980, said "it would take some time to chalk out new plans", as he would have to test the three players -- R Raghunath, Jugraj Singh and Vikramjit Singh � shortlisted to replace Sandeep.
The three penalty-corner specialists will be assessed during practice matches the team would play in Germany.
Bhaskaran, however, asserted that the players are fit after gruelling camps, in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
He expressed satisfaction over the progress in the players' fitness, which was taken care of by newly-appointed Australian trainer Derek Knox.
"The boys have done well under him (Knox). They are fit. But you cannot get the results (of fitness training) overnight. It's a long-term process," he added.
The Indian team will take the Lufthansa Airlines flight late Thursday night and fly to Cologne, where they will play a few practice matches before moving on to Monchengladbach, Germany, for the World Cup from September 6 to 17.