Hockey camp starts in Delhi

A 45-member Indian squad started its preparation for the Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 5 under the watchful eyes of national coach Harendra Singh at the Major Dhyan Chand national stadium here on Tuesday. Harendra was re-appointed as the coach of the national team a few days back by Hockey India. “Win or loss in Azlan Shah cup tournament does not matter much to us as we see it as the beginning of our preparation for the tough Olympic qualifiers, which will start next year,” Rajpal said.

India and South Korea were the co-winners of Azlan Shah Cup last year.India, for the first time in 80 years (since their debut in 1928), had failed to take part in 2008 Beijing Olympics after the shocking 0-2 loss against Britain in the final of the Olympic qualifiers in Santiago.
The preparatory camp is being held after a break of more than three months but Rajpal said the long gap will not affect the form and fitness of the players. “All the international teams were on break during this period so I don’t think it will affect us. Also, almost all the Indian players were busy playing domestic tournaments and National Games. We were not completely away from the game.

“We have to play a lot of international hockey ahead so the focus will be on fitness. We will work hard on this aspect,” said Rajpal.

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