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|October 8, 2001||
Junior hockey team confident
Defending champions Australia start as favourites while runners-up India hope to clinch the title for the first time as the seventh junior men's hockey World Cup gets underway in Hobart on Tuesday.
"We definitely have the advantage of playing on home ground but to be considered as favourite and retain the title will put pressure on the team," Aussie coach Colin Batch said on Monday.
"I watched Germany and Holland play a practice match yesterday [Sunday] and found that these teams have some awesome talent," he said, adding that Dutch players like Balder Bomas, Thomas Boerma and Germany's Thomas Jahn and Forian Keller are surely going to make a mark in this tournament.
About India, Batch said, "Judging from the amount of exposure players like Gagan Ajit and Bimal Lakra have had playing in senior tournaments, India is the other team I will be looking out for."
India coach Rajinder Singh excuded cautious optimism on the eve of the championship saying. "We cannot take any team lightly and will have to play our best to win. The weather today is the only worrying factor and I hope it gets as sunny as it was in Sydney where we trained prior to coming here.
''The acclimatization at Sydney followed by the two days of practice at Hobart and the draw makes us fell confident.''
India play Canada in its first match on Tuesday.
''I feel we have to pace ourselves properly to perform at our best during the second phase of the competition, which is bound to be very competitive,'' added Rajinder after the team's final practice session.
''The Group C matches against Canada, Spain and Scotland will help us peak for the final stages,'' he said.
The only factor that may be worrying the Indian team is the sudden worsening of weather over the weekend. A severe southerly brought heavy rain to the Tasmanian hockey centre, disrupting an otherwise perfect build-up to the tournament.
Tournament director Peter Paul Lathouvers, from The Netherlands, met with the tournament organising committee and approved the organisation of the tournament. All the teams have tested the facility with practice sessions. The Indian team had two practice session -- one on Sunday and another on Monday and seemed pretty satisfied with the surface.
''The surfaces are fast and clean and should make for interesting matches," said Indian skipper Gagan Ajit Singh.''
"We are having a comfortable stay at the Montgomery's hotel which is close to the venue,'' said coach Rajinder Singh added.
In the other Pool 'C' match on Tuesday, Scotland will meet Spain.
Other matches that will be played will be between Pool 'A' teams. Chile will lock horns with England while Australia meets Ireland.
The Indian team: Devesh Chauhan, Bikramjit Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh,
Jugraj Singh, Prabodh Tirkey, Bimal Lakra, Viren Rasquinha, Gagan Ajit
Singh, Deepak Sonkhlia, Inderjeet Singh, Rajpal Singh, Arjun
Hallappa, Tejbir Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Ignatius Tirkey, Bharat Kumar,
Vikram Pillay and Bipin Fernandez.
Mail Sports Editor
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