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 March 2, | 1500 IST
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D'Souza to return immediately

India's chief coach Cedric D'Souza, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Indian Hockey Federation following the team's third straight defeat in the men's hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, is returning home immediately.

At an informal meeting with scribes in his room on Saturday morning, D'Souza said he would be flying back to Mumbai as soon as he could get a ticket.

Asked why was he taking such an extreme step, D'Souza said the IHF had informed him that his services were not needed and he should hand over the reins to his assistant, C R Kumar.

"I was called by the manager, Mr Alva, to his room and informed that I should step down and help the assistant coach. But, at the same time, they wanted me to sit on the bench and advice the team too, and then attend the press conference as if nothing was wrong," explained a very distressed-looking D'Souza.

"I can't do that. Either I am the coach or I am not," he declared, asking the scribes present whether they would want to continue in positions for which they were not wanted.

"Well, you have your answer. If they are looking for a scapegoat, they can do it for all I care," he added.

D'Souza refuted an allegation by IHF secretary Jyothikumaran that certain decisions agreed upon by the team management before the England match were not carried out.

"I am the coach and all the decisions reside with me. I take the team decisions and even if they were taken as a team, we all abide by that," he said.

Jyothikumaran, in Kuala Lumpur with the team, had told scribes that the D'Souza wasn't listening to his assistant coach, and "in the interests of the team, [C R] Kumar will coach and Cedric should stay back and help him".

D'Souza smiled at the allegation and said: "I would want to know ... if that is true .. who told Jothikumaran that. And, whatever decisions were taken, they were taken as a team. I would also like to know who is the chief coach here and who is the assistant."

D'Souza also spoke about reports that he had admitted to Jyothikumaran that some players should not have been included in the World Cup squad.

"Six people selected this team... which included me. They were the IHF president, secretary, government observer Jalaluddin, selection committee member Prithviraj and manager of the team K G S Alva. Six signatures were put on the team list," D'Souza said.

"Let's say, I said some selections were wrong in the team. But did the IHF secretary have the right to leak that to the media?" Cedric asked. "But having said that I stand by my team and believe in them."

D'Souza said he believed he would have been asked not to continue as coach after the World Cup. "I thought they would tell me that in India, but its a surprise that they told me here."

Queried whether he would stay back and watch the action, he said it was impossible for him. "I don't want to be humiliated. I have already asked for police protection. I have been abused and jostled by the Indian fans here. How can I sit in the stands and watch the World Cup?"

D'Souza informed that he had conveyed the decision to the players.

"I called them in for a meeting at 8.30 in the morning, before they went for a jog, and told them that I was quitting and that they should play their best and give all the support to C R Kumar.

"I told them that they have to perform for the country and all support should now go to Kumar as he was their coach now."

Meanwhile, IHF president K P S Gill said in Kolkata that he just wanted to give a "stressed" D'Souza a break for the next two matches but the coach took it in bad spirit.

"We knew he (D'Souza) was under great tension and as our next two matches against Cuba and Poland are comparatively easier, we asked him to relax and let his deputy C R Kumar take over for those two matches," Gill said.

"But D'Souza seems to have taken our advice badly and I understand that he has gone to book his ticket to return home.

"I am sad at these developments. We will have to start afresh," he added.

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