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Rajinder Singh Jr. named coach till 2006 World Cup

Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI: Despite India's poor performance at the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur, the Indian Hockey Federation President, K. P. S. Gill, scoffed at the idea of a foreign coach for the national team.

Rajinder Singh Jr., who was given charge of the Indian team a month before the Azlan Shah tournament, will stay on till the 2006 World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany (Sept. 6-17).

"Rajinder Jr. will be the coach of Indian team till the 2006 World Cup and for all the tournaments prior to that. He is the right man," said Mr. Gill. He, however, warned, "no coach can be permanent."

The Champions Trophy in Chennai and Commonwealth Games in Melbourne are two major events before the World Cup.

Gill unfazed

Reacting to India's fifth-place finish in Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Gill said: "Some players were injured and some could not be sent as they were serving suspension."

Nine junior players, regulars in the national side, were busy at the junior World Cup camp in Hyderabad. "Those juniors are vital players in the team's strategy but we could not send them," Mr. Gill added.

"I don't feel despondent about the recent show in Malaysia. We played well against Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand and should have beaten them and played for 3-4 position," is what Mr. Gill had to say.

The Indian team returned from Malaysia in the wee hours of Tuesday to a quiet reception attended by a few IHF officials.

Besides blaming the non-availability of some players as the reason for India's poor performance, Mr. Gill recounted the oft-repeated line that "infrastructure in India was terribly inadequate".

"To think hockey as a national game and we have just one floodlit stadium in the country. We are constantly approaching the government, but it has its own limitations," said Mr. Gill. Unless more infrastructure comes up, India will continue to lag behind, he said.

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