The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Len seen as Jugraj’s replacement

New Delhi: The 16-member Indian hockey team for the forthcoming Afro-Asian Games will be selected here on Thursday.

According to coach Rajinder Singh, Len Ayappa and Prabodh Tirkey are slated to make their debut in the senior team. Goalkeeper Bharat Chettri and playmaker Arjun Halappa are also likely to be recalled.

Thus from the 12 juniors called for the camp, only one is likely to be selected. Rajinder is concerned all of India’s group matches are under floodlights and he wants to get his squad in Hyderabad by this weekend to have them adjusted to the lights.

“Ayappa is a likely long term drag-flick replacement for the injured Jugraj Singh,” Rajinder said. Ayappa, who was the top-scorer for Anderson Club in the Malaysian league, is being used as a defensive midfielder.

“He lacks the patience and tackling skills needed by a defender,” the coach observed.

Halappa last played for the Indian team in the Champions Trophy in Cologne last year. Rajinder feels Halappa and Ignace Tirkey will be used as playmakers in the absence of Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon.

Meanwhile the women’s hockey meet has been severely jolted with the withdrawal of Busan Asian Games gold-medallists China and powerful Japan. Even South Korea are sending their B team.

While Kazakhstan will replace Japan, no Asian country has been found as China’s replacement. The four African representatives are Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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