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Two 'Seniors' in the Indian team. (2/25/2001)
Poznan 6-Nation Challenge


Indian junior team with Prabodh Tirkey as captain will leave New Delhi in the wee hours of Friday to take part in the 6-Nation Junior Challenge Cup at Poznan, Poland. India was the finalist of the previous edition and has its task cut out to repeat the same feat.

The 18-member team has defender Kawalpreet Singh and forward Inderjit Singh Chadha who have valuable experience at senior level. Kawalpreet played the recent World Cup Qualifier at Edinburgh and Inderjit against the visiting Germany early this year.

The team comprises of many prospective juniors who are at the verge of knocking the senior doors. They include Rajpal Singh, who earned the epithet of `Player of the Tournament' at the Youth Asia Cup, Tushar Khandkar, the 'Best Player of the Final' in the same tournament, Vikram Pillai and Amarjeet who were part of the title winning Samaranch Cup, Virenrasquina, Amarjeet Pratap and many others who were in the last Junior Asia Cup and in the the last year Poznan 8-Nation Challenge.

The probables have undergone a training camp at Ludhiana in Punjab state from 4th of last month with Rajinder Singh and Narinder Singh Sodhi as coaches and Sampath and Brient as trainer and physio. The tournament will start on 13th and will come to an end on 19th with the last league match between the host Poland and India. Others in the fray besides the duo are England, Russia, Germany and Malaysia. The defending champion South Korea is the notable missing.

According to coach Rajinder Singh the tournament will be played on round robin format with no finals. The winner will be decided on the basis of maximum points.

While Manipur's Suraj Kanta and Tamil Nadu's Shanmugasundaram will man the goal, Bikaramjit Singh and Punjab Police's Kawalpreet Singh, the tallest of the lot with 6 foot and 1 inch will guard the defence. Rajpal Singh, Inderjit Singh, Amarjeet Singh, Tushar and , Ajitpal Singh will form the forwardline. The midfield is left to captain Prabodh Tirkey, who has captivating smile on his face, and all rounder like Karnataka's Sandeep Michael.

"It is a balanced team. We have both experienced as well as raw hands for each segment of play like defence, midfield and forwardline. The best of the lot will be assigned each position and only performance will be the yardstick, said Rajinder Singh. He refused to forecast India's chance saying, "In today's hockey there are no strong teams and week teams. Those days are over. Now every team is fit and raring to go. The one that avails the chances will be successful on that particular day."

Though one novice R.D. Sharma will be manager and V.B. Singh as umpire, A.E. Brient, physio, who had sweated out with the team in the last one month at Ludhiana had been left out in lurch in the last minute. The Indian Hockey Federation refused to divulge reason for his exclusion. He was with the team till today.

Schedule: 13th August: Germany-Russia, Malaysia-India, Poland -England. 14th: Germany-India, England-Russia, Poland-Malaysia. 15th Rest. 16th: India-Russia, Malaysia-England, Germany-Poland. 17th: England-India, Russia-Poland, Malaysia-Germany. 18th. Rest. 19th: Malaysia-Russia, England-Germany. Poland-India

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