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Sampath to join team later: IHF

June 02, 2004 19:20 IST

In an attempt to play down the controversy surrounding the sudden omission of Sampath Kumar from the USA-bound hockey contingent, the Indian Hockey Federation said the trainer would rejoin the team later.

"We could not send him since he did not get the clearance from the Sports Ministry and SAI. But he will be joining the probables on a later date. The federation would take a decision on him soon," IHF secretary K Jothikumaran said on Wednesday evening.

However, Jothikumaran did not say when exactly Sampath would join the team, which is accompanied by another trainer, Saju Joseph.

Sampath, who has been associated with the national team for the last two years, missed the flight to the United States, where the Indian probables will have their final preparation for the Athens Olympics, in controversial circumstances.

But Jothikumaran said the trainer's absence is unlikely to affect the team's preparation.

"The probables will have specialised training at the US institute which has its own fitness experts. It would have been a learning experience for both our trainers – Sampath and Saju Joseph.

"Saju is also an experienced trainer and has worked with the team in the past. So his [Sampath's] absence is unlikely to affect the preparations," the IHF secretary added.

The IHF also sought to clarify the reasons for veteran striker Baljit Singh Dhillon failing to take the flight to the US.

"He did not get the visa and that is why he could not go today," Anupam Ghulati, newly-appointed media advisor to the IHF, said.

"The US embassy here [in Delhi] has not given any reason for not issuing visa to him. Probably it is because they need some more clarification."

Ghulati added that in case the player fails to get the visa for the US he would join the team in Holland.

"Anyway he can join the team in Holland as he has got valid documents to visit that country. But till then he will continue his practice at Patiala."

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