The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Confident India eye maiden Champions Trophy title

New Delhi: The rejuvenated Indian hockey team will resort to innovative training techniques in their quest to win the prestigious Champions Trophy, which has eluded them so far.

Having raised the expectations by their consistent performance in the last year or so, the team is determined to keep up the good show and is eyeing to break the jinx this time around.

The team is positive after their back-to-back wins in Sydney and Hamburg, and sponsorship support from Sahara India Pariwar and the coach feels, the two things combined may have made India’s case strong for going into the Champions Trophy as one of the favourites.

“We are not quite favourites but yes the confidence of the team is high. We are certainly hoping for a good performance from the boys,” the chief coach said.

As a first step towards that goal, the preparatory camp for the event is being carefully planned, coach Rajinder Singh said here on Thursday. The camp will be divided into phases with emphasis on different aspects.

“In the first phase, the team will spend around six days in Solan where the focus will be on relaxation and fitness of players,” Rajinder said. “We have also planned to study the rival team’s weakness and strength through video reviews.”

Since the temperatures in Amstelveen (Holland), the venue for Champions Trophy, go down considerably after rains, the team will benefit from the training at the hill station, the coach maintained.

Rajinder also sought to dismiss the omission of veteran forward Mukesh Kumar from the squad, saying “we cannot allow players to pick and choose tournaments.”

Mukesh Kumar had accused the team management of not giving him enough chances in the double-leg Australian event and had subsequently pulled out of the Germany tour citing personal problems. He had, however, said he would be available for the Champions Trophy.

Meanwhile, captain Dhanraj Pillay has hailed Sahara India’s decision to sponsor the national senior and junior teams for eight years, and urged his teammates to play with renewed vigour in the Champions Trophy.

Pillay, who was felicitated in Mumbai on Wednesday along with two other local boys, Viren Rasquinha and Vikram Pillay, for winning the two back-to-back tournaments, said: “It is a fantastic gesture on part of Sahara to sponsor our team. This will only benefit the game in the country”.

Pillay, who broke down while receiving mementoes and a cash prize of Rs 25,000 from Jackie Shroff, said: “It is now upto the players in the team to perform to their potential in the Champions Trophy next month and the Athens Olympics next year as we have a very good understanding among us.

“I am sure we will do very well in the near future and with a sponsor to back us, we will have to give 100 per cent whenever we step on the ground,” he added.

Rajinder also said the new sponsor “will certainly change the way hockey players are looked upon and it is going to reflect in their performances.”

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