Ipoh: The Indian hockey team were dealt a severe blow ahead of their opening Asia Cup group league encounter against minnows Oman, after skipper Sardar Singh was declared unfit. He is recovering from viral fever.
Sardar, who was in hospital with fever and throat infection, was discharged on Thursday and even trained with the team on Friday. But India’s interim coach Roelant Oltmans is in no mood to take any risk ahead of crucial upcoming encounters.
“Sardar is well now. He was discharged on Thursday, but he won’t play (against Oman) on Saturday. His fitness is not of the required level. If I let him play he may fall sick again,” Oltmans, who is also the High Performance Director of Hockey India, said after the team’s practice session at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.
Sardar, however, is hopeful of spending at least some time in the turf tomorrow to get a feel. “I have recovered now, but still there is some weakness. I don’t know what plans the coach has but I will speak to him and see if I can get to play for 10 minutes tomorrow,” Sardar said.
Oltmans cautioned his wards against complacency against Oman and said he is just looking for a winning start.
The Dutch said that Oman will play a defensive game and it will be a test of character for his young forward line to breach the opposition defence.
“To be honest, we all know Oman is not in the top 20 in the world, but we have seen that it is very difficult to play against teams who are defending. Oman will play defensive hockey,” Oltmans said. (PTI)