A long way to go, says junior team coach

NEW DELHI AUG. 26. "Long way to go,'' was how coach Harinder Singh made an honest assessment of the Indian junior hockey team's triumph in the Junior Challenge Open hockey tournament at Gniezno, Poland.

The Indians won the title in a convincing manner, sweeping aside France 10-0, Germany 3-0, Malaysia 3-0, Poland 9-1 and Pakistan 5-0.

Harinder praised the team for its brilliant performance but struck a note of caution. "We tend to ignore the shortcomings when celebrating our victories and that's why I would like the boys to remember that they have a long way to go. It was quite a convincing performance no doubt but I expect them to play much better,'' said Harinder here on Tuesday.

The team returned here on Tuesday morning, a few hours behind the senior team which finished fourth in the Champions Trophy.

According to Harinder, the Indian team scored from 18 of the 30 penalty corners it earned. "We had 11 direct conversions and seven indirect. I was very pleased by the fact that we conceded just one goal in five matches. We conceded 14 penalty corners but didn't conceded any. The defence was very organised but I would say the midfield did very well,'' said Harinder.

The junior coach pointed out "not one player suffered from any injury. I would give credit to our trainer (Saju Joseph). He did a marvellous job.''

Prabodh Tirkey was adjudged the best player of the tournament while A. D'Souza was declared the best goalkeeper. The best forward was Sandeep Singh, who scored four goals, including hat-trick, in the match against Pakistan.

"We dedicate our trophy to the Kargil War heroes. The boys were charged up in the match against Pakistan and Sandeep ignored an injury to continue. He was outstanding as the team whipped Pakistan,'' Harinder concluded.

— Our Special Correspondent

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