I am happy juniors did well: India eves coach

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New Delhi, Dec 5 (UNI) India eves hockey coach Gurdayal Singh Bangu said he was satisfied with the performance of his wards, especially with that of the juniors, who won the Four-Nation Hockey tournament title today.

''Senior players have done well but I am happy that the juniors passed the test,'' Bangu said after beating Azerbaijan 1-0 in the final here.

In the absence of seniors like Asunta Lakra, Surinder Kaur and Jasjeet Kaur due to injury, eight junior players had been given chance in the tournament held to prepare the team for Olympic qualifiers.

''We had selected eight juniors for the tournament and they have done very well under the guidance of seniors Mamta (Kharab), (Saba) Anjum and Suman Bala.

''I think at least five (of the juniors) could make it to the squad which would be selected for the Olympic qualifiers,'' Bangu said.

The coach picked Mizo girl Rosalind Ralte for special praise. ''Ralte was the find of the tournament. She did really well,'' he said.

Ritu Rani, Anuradha Devi, Thokchom Ranjita and Ralte played all the matches while Nilima Kujur, Manorama Devi, S Ranjita and Yendala Soundarya were used sparingly in the tournament.

Asunta Lakra, Surinder and Jasjeet are recovering at the rehabilitation clinic at NIS Patiala. They will be back for the Olympic qualifiers.

Bangu also said he was happy that his girls responded well to the experiments he had worked out in view of the Olympic qualifiers.

''We have to be ready to play against Europeans, Latin Americans and other Asian countries so we have experimented different formations in the tournament and we were reasonably successful.'' India will play Olympic qualifiers in Kazan in Russia from April 19-27 and the opponents are USA, Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Chinese Taipei and hosts Russia.

Before that, they will tour Australia and play against top Australian teams and national team from January 8-19.

The Indian team will then go to Oman to play friendlies from January 24 to 30 against the Dutch national team for the Beijing Olympics.

The Dutch wanted to play at Oman as they think that place would have similar weather with Beijing.

The Indian team will play another four-nation hockey tournament to be hosted by Punjab Sports Directorate before going for the national camp ahead of the Olympics.

UNI

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