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Stranded Indian hockey team blames SAI

July 23, 2009 22:40 IST

The Indian hockey team on Thursday blamed Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials for the fiasco that saw them missing a flight in Pune and reaching the capital late for the logo unveiling ceremony of the newly-formed national federation.

After a five-week preparatory camp ahead of their Europe tour, the players were supposed to reach the capital in the morning for the ceremony.

They, however, missed the flight in Pune, which prompted Hockey India to reschedule the ceremony in New Delhi three hours behind the original schedule and the players eventually made it to the venue.

Coach Harendra Singh laid the blame squarely on SAI officials, who, he alleged, did not send pick-up vehicles on time at the training centre in Balewadi, Pune.

"The whole incident happened because of one or two SAI officials," Harendra said.

"Last night I personally called up SAI and they confirmed that they will be sending two buses for the team's travel to the airport. Instead, they later sent two smaller vehicles with limited sitting capacity and that too came late," he said.

The team also accused the airlines of misbehaving with the players at the airport when they requested to be accommodated in their scheduled flight.

"Finally by the time we reached the airport, they had stopped issuing boarding passes. We requested the Kingfisher airline officials to allow us to board the flight and sent our luggage later as we had to reach Delhi by afternoon," Harendra said.

"But the deputy manager of the airlines present at the Pune airport behaved very arrogantly. This sort of incident obviously affect the morale of the team as well as the image of the country," he added.

Hockey India President AK Mattoo said he will pursue the issue both with the SAI and the airlines.

"Hockey India is going to take up the matter seriously. You cannot take a national team for granted," he said.

Newly-appointed chief coach Jose Brasa also criticised the SAI for the delay in providing scientific equipments for the players' training.

"We received some equipments but we are still awaiting for the majority of the lot. I think SAI is little slow in taking decisions," the FIH master coach from Spain said.

"But we are determined to do our best with the lack of technology," Brasa added.

The 22-member Indian team will leave for a four-nation Europe tour tonight to play 12 Tests against England, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands starting from July 27.

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