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Pakistan withdraw from three-nation tourney
January 14, 2008 15:56 IST
Pakistan have withdrawn from the proposed three-nation hockey tournament involving Belgium and India, to be held in Bangalore, from January 22.
India's chief coach Joaquim Carvalho said the tournament will now be played as a five-Test series between Belgium and India.
"Pakistan has cried out of the tournament and the Indian Hockey Federation has now scheduled a five-Test series, which would be played on January 25, 27, 28, 30 and 31 in Chennai," he said.
The tournament was proposed to provide Indian players vital competition practice ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.
On the team's preparation for the qualifer in Chile, from March 1 to 9, Carvalho said, "The national team is always on the job of achieving their goal. Our immediate goal is to gain the berth for the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images] and then work on endeavouring to be successful in the proper Games.
"Needless to say that the probables are always on the job of gaining the berth and the players have been straining without rest since winning the Asia Cup. Our team is the only one amongst the teams in fray for the qualifier to have been constantly in touch with the game either playing in tournaments like PHL or in the camps.
"The players are raring to go and in excellent mood. They are still rejoicing over the recognition that they received from the hockey-loving public, and corporates and government honouring them for their Asia Cup win. No stone will be left unturned and the team will return home in flying colours," Carvalho said.
Carvalho and his team members require to maintain form and momentum of having won back to back bronze medals in the Azlan Shah tournament in Kuala Lumpur and the Champions Challenge event in Germany [Images] before winning the Asia Cup in Chennai.
He said they do not want to rest on their laurels and maintained that only skilful players and commitment would fit into his scheme of things.
"We know the uphill task ahead and therefore the boys are shown the video clippings of matches involving England [Images] and measures taken to win over them for earning the Olympic berth.
"All matches that England played in the Champions Challenge and Champions Trophy are being shown to the players and their views of tackling tight situations are ascertained before we teach them remedial measures, both theoretically and practically. We are doing this since England is the toughest team in the fray against us in the Chile qualifier tournament," Carvalho said.
As for the ongoing camp before a 22 or 24-member squad team is picked for the Test series against Belgium, Carvalho said, "We are adhering to team specific strategies and involve the players in set piece situations."
The team will be visiting Western Australia for a couple of practice matches.