The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gagan: Players should communicate more

Chandigarh: Star forward Gagan Ajit Singh has identified lack of communication as one of the reasons for Indian hockey team’s last minute choking, which again came to the fore despite India’s back-to-back trophy wins at Hamburg and Perth.

Gagan Ajit, player of the tournament at Hamburg, said though the team was doing well in most departments, conceding goals in the last minutes of a match was an area of concern. “We conceded a goal against Germany in the dying minutes and (earlier in Australia) Pakistan scored in the last seconds which helped them force a draw,” he said, adding more communication among the players was needed to overcome this problem.

Gagan Ajit said the team will be working hard to improve on the weak areas to make it three in a row at the Champions Trophy in The Netherlands in August following back-to-back wins in two tournaments in Australia and Germany.

“With two important tournament victories under our belt, the team morale has got a tremendous boost. However, there are some weak areas which we are working on to ensure that the current dream run continues,” he said.

Gagan Ajit said the team had also improved a lot in the penalty corner conversion. “We are improving in this area. In Hamburg, we converted eight goals while in last month’s three nation invitational tournament in Australia we converted six goals.”

Asked which match at Hamburg was the toughest, Gagan Ajit said playing against world champions Germany was always a challenge. “We played very good hockey against them even as the pressure of local crowd is there against you.”

He said the team had been, in recent times, concentrating hard on playing attacking hockey. “Earlier, we used to go on the defensive during the opening session but now we attack right from the word go which puts pressure on the opposition. With this strategy, we have been scoring goals in the first half as the team playing against us comes under lot of pressure.”

Gagan Ajit pointed to the present senior-junior combination as one of the reasons for the team’s recent successes. “All the players have good understanding and this is helping the team’s cause. The junior members are supported by the senior ones and we learn a lot from their techniques,” he said.

Gagan Ajit said the team will not sit on its laurels, but work hard to recover the lost glory of Indian hockey. “You know, even the FIH president has praised our team on its performance,” he said.

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