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Hockey team gets cracking for Olympic qualifier
February 28, 2008 19:11 IST
Coping with the huge jet lag following a 24-hour flight from Bangalore to Santiago is among the hurdles facing the Indian team, which arrived five days prior to the start of the WorldHockey men's Olympic qualifier, from March 1 to 9.
"We had anticipated such a scenario in view of the really long flight halfway around the world and different time zones. The players are still in the process of recovering from the jet lag, although we have already got into a routine of training and practice," said chief coach Joaquim Carvalho.
He felt the flight could have been planned better. The team arrived in Santiago after lengthy stop-overs in Mumbai, Johannesburg (South Africa) and Sao Paulo (Brazil [Images]).
"Anyway, all that is behind us and our focus is now totally on the tournament, which I expect to be a hard-fought one, as there is only one spot up for grabs," he said, referring to the fact that six teams are competing for a lone slot available for the 2008 Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images].
The team already had two practice sessions at the Prince of Wales club pitch, the venue of the tournament, and also did some weight training.
Carvalho said there are no injury concerns and all the 18 players are fit.
"The sooner we get over the jet-lag the better. Right now, the players are sleeping it off in between training sessions. I am happy we came here a few days in advance."
Skipper Prabodh Tirkey expressed happiness over the pitch and felt it would suit the Indian players.
"It is fast and very even with no bad bounce. In many ways, it is similar to the pitch we practised on in Bangalore during our training camp. The ball travels well and it should suit our style of play," Tirkey opined.
Incidentally, the Indian Hockey Federation opted for the team to stay in a different lodging than the official team hotel, the Santiago Sheraton.
On the last minute change of hotel, IHF secretary-general K Jothikumaran said: "We had certain issues with staying at the Sheraton and so we decided on another hotel."
The team appeared quite satisfied with the hotel, whose management has been co-operative in providing rice and soup items, catering to the Indian taste buds.