The hockey world cup is a wonderful opportunity to redeem India's pride
The 1994 World Cup in Sydney has a special place for the Hyderabadis. For, it happened to be the only occasion when two players from the City played in that event – Nandnuri Mukesh Kumar and Edwards Alloysius. So, when yet another edition is on in Delhi, Alloysius goes down the memory lane to recapture those wonderful moments in Sydney. This flamboyant goalkeeper who played three matches – against Holland, Belgium and South Africa – and was on and off for the other matches, believes, like Mukesh, that it was the best team to be fielded in any of the World Cups in recent memory.
“Not very often do we see such a classy combination like that of coach Cedric d' Souza and captain Jude Felix. The planning was meticulous and we failed to qualify for knock-out just because we did beat the big guns despite dominating even those games. The major setback even before the event began was the reliable right-in Sabu Varkey being out of sorts due to stress problem,” feels a dejected Alloysius. “But, that we still finished fifth, which remains the best since then in any World Cup for us is itself a reminder of how good the team was then,” he pointed out.
“Playing in Sydney edition when I was just 24 was an amazing feeling and considering that our manager was Ajitpal Singh, captain of the Indian team which won the 1975 World Cup it was an unforgettable experience,” he says. “I picked a lot of tips from the Ajitpal, against whom incidentally I played against in the Nehru Cup semi-final once,” he added.
Commenting on Mukesh, Alloysius said he had not seen a right-winger with such speed and precision. “He was like a lightning and arguably at his peak. A privilege to play alongside him,” were the compliments of one Hyderabadi to another.It was also a tribute to coaches like Abharanam, Doraiswamy as both Alloyisus and Mukesh were the products of SAAP Hostel.
So, when Rajpal Singh led Indian challenge in Delhi World Cup with a fantastic 4-1 win over Pakistan, like millions of hockey fans both Alloysius, and Mukesh would be hoping for a special performance from the Indians over the next few days also.
“And I am confident of a much better showing since we got off to a dream start against Pakistan. Honestly, I thought we played like normally the Pakistanis play and they played like the Indians of recent past. It was brilliant to see our boys cope with the pressure and still stay cool to pull off such a great win,” says Alloysius. “The home team could not have expected a better start to such a prestigious event. And we only hope that they would not get complacent,” he remarked..
Alloyisus too is not sure whether he would be able to make it to the Delhi to cheer the team in view of the stringent security measures which mean that even former Olympians have to get a police clearance to get their accreditation.V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM