India suffered a jolt even before kicking off their campaign in the eight-nation Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament with ace midfielder Ignace Tirkey "opting out" of the squad citing "personal reasons".
His replacement, Vikram Kanth of Indian Oil is expected to arrive in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Friday, ahead of India's opening fixture against Australia on Saturday, according to chief coach Joaquim Carvalho.
Also missing from the Indian contingent was manager R K Shetty from Bangalore, who also opted out at the last moment, citing "family reasons".
Assistant coach Mohinder Pal Singh has been entrusted with the managerial responsibility in Shettys absence.
Speaking soon after the team's arrival from Kuala Lumpur on Thursday afternoon, Carvalho said, "Ignace himself opted out of the tournament after low-key performances in the two practice games we played in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week.
"He told me that he was not up to playing in the competition due to personal reasons and so we agreed to let him fly back to India. Vikram Kanth, a solid midfielder, is expected to reach here tomorrow morning."
India lost 0-1 to Malaysia in their first practice game in Kuala Lumpur and the teams drew 1-1 in the next match.
"In both the matches, Ignace was not up to the mark. I would like to categorically state that his returning home is nothing to do with discipline or fitness. So, there are no issues here," Carvalho clarified.
According to the chief coach, who took charge of the team barely a month back, replacing Vasudevan Baskaran, Ignace had passed the fitness test prior to the team's departure to Malaysia.
Carvalho declined to elaborate on the "personal reasons" that led to Ignace's sudden departure, but it was learnt that the midfielder was in the process of securing release from MEG, Bangalore, to pursue offers from a public company. As such, he could not focus on his game.
India are clubbed with Australia, Argentina and China in Group A, while Pakistan, Malaysia, Canada and Korea comprise Group B.
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