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India stands little chance

By V. V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD, SEPT. 7. The body language of the Indian coaches, Vikramjit Singh and Suresh Kumar, conveys it all. Nothing great can be expected from the host when it begins its campaign in the ninth Asian junior handball championship for men at Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium.

The two gentlemen convey an impression that if the Indians qualify for the knock-out phase it would by itself be a great achievement. Apparently, they are conscious of the fact that India is playing an event of this magnitude after a gap of more than two years. The Indians had a one-month camp in Gandhinagar on clay court before moving over to city for another 35-day camp on the synthetic surface before the championship. The defensive attitude of the Indian camp can also be reflected by the fact that the focus was more on defence rather than attack.

Most of the Indians led by Jain Prasad will be making their debut at the Asian level. Some of the players injured during the camp recovered in time for the big event. Goalkeeper Ritish Pande was one such case. Vikramjit Singh is banking on the rolling substitution rule that should facilitate him to give adequate rest to his players for better results.

In terms of challenge, it comes in the form of the dangerous Kuwait and Chinese Taipei.

The organisers have been kept guessing as Korea, the 2002 Busan Asian Games gold medallist, is yet to arrive. Predictably, it will be the favourite here along with Kuwait, silver medallists in Busan Asiad. Qatar was the bronze medallist in the seniors section.

Fortunately for the organisers the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh chipped in with a financial grant of Rs. 20 lakhs for the event besides support on major fronts as even the turaflex court, imported for the 2002 National Games.

Most of the teams had a one-hour training schedule each at the competition venue.

The groupings:

Group A: China, Iran, Qatar, UAE and Korea; Group B: Bangladesh, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kuwait, India and Oman.

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