Dutch, English players hit by illness

Struck by a mysterious illness that has prevented them from fielding their full squads so far, the Netherlands and England camps are hoping their players recover in time for the all-important knock-out phase of the World League Final that kicked off here on Wednesday.

During the group phase, both England and the Netherlands have had three players each missing. Both the teams are residing at the Mayfair Lagoon, considered one of the premier hotels in the city.

The Netherlands' player Seve van Ass felt the issue could be because of food. "Unfortunately, all the players are not fully healthy and we played with 14 instead of 18," he said after the defeat against Belgium on Tuesday. "Today was an attitude thing. Almost all have recovered now and hopefully, nothing happens further for us in the tournament. I believe it's a stomach issue, something in the food."

England coach Bob Crutchley confirmed his players have also been laid low but chose to play it safe when queried about the cause. "We've got a number of players ill again. There are other teams in our hotel who've got the same problem. I honestly don't want to make a judgment. I know our doctor is very concerned about the health of the players. We are trying our best to ensure other players don't get the same bug.

"It's certainly not ideal particularly with the physical exertion required in international hockey. It's far from ideal. Two-three players out makes a big impact on the squad. We're hopeful we will have more back by the quarterfinals but if we start to lose more then it becomes really, really difficult. The guys are back at the hotels and not sure of the current status."

Vishal Kumar Dev, Secretary of Sports and Youth Services Department (Government of Odisha), said officials are looking into the matter. "The issue surrounding the Mayfair hotel came to my knowledge on Sunday. I have spoken to the managing director. The incident shouldn't have happened because Mayfair is a product you associate with quality. It's one of the best properties in Odisha.

"They (Mayfair) are saying it could be because of what the players are eating outside. Apparently, Argentina got pizzas from outside. They (Mayfair) feel they can't be held responsible for something like that. We've asked our food safety team to conduct a daily check of the kitchen and the ingredients. It started on Tuesday and it's not just for Mayfair, it will be done in every hotel where the teams are staying. We had done a similar exercise during Asian Athletics."

Pradipta Mahapatra, General Manager (Sales), Mayfair Lagoon, rubbished the issue saying no team has complained to them.

It may be recalled that the Netherlands team, when they travelled to the same city in 2014 for the Champions Trophy, issued an advisory that banned the players from taking a dip in the pool, shaking hands with unknown people, brushing teeth with tap water, amongst others.

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