Hockey: Coach defends Indian 'defence'

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Chennai, Feb 1: A buoyant, Chief hockey Coach of team India, bound for Perth for further training and competition after the 3-1 win in the five Test series against Belgium here, today dismissed suggestions that the defence has to be toned up in time for Beijing Olympic qualifying tournament next month.

Team India will next be fighting for the lone berth for Beijing Olympic Games in the tournament at San Tiego in Chile beginning early next month.
''The defence is not definitely suspect. I can understand if we had lost the series. Maybe, we faultered a bit'', the former international observed, talking to UNI, on the eve of the team's departure of Perth tonight, referring to the team conceding a few goals after being the lead in the Tests against Belgium, especially in the final Test yesterday.

''On astro turf with the game being very fast, it is natural that a team scores'', Carvalho also said, adding the team's attack has been ''good and hard''.

Carvalho said ''I am sure the training cum competition tour in Perth would put the team in the right shape and frame of mind'', for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Chile.
Carvalho expressed satisfaction about the performance of the junior players in the team like Diwakar, who played a splendid game in defence against Belgium in the fourth Test match, Samir Baxia and Bhrath Chikkara. ''The youngsters forced themselves very well and played hard. We have to watch them further'', he observed.

Asked what were the strong points of the team now, Carvalho, under whom the team placed itself on the path to resurgence winning the Asia Cup, said '' our strong points are that we are playing a sound game with lot of marking of the opponents, in addition to good attack.'' '' Most importantly, we are playing as a team now'', Carvalho reiterated as he had been since the Asia Cup triumph.

Asked when the team for the Olympics qualifying tournament would be picked, Carvalho, who has already observed after the series against Belgium ended last night that with an abundance of talent available now it would be a difficult task, said this would be done after returning from Perth.

Carvalho said the squad would assemble at Bangalore again on February 20 for four days, during which the team to Chile was expected to be announced.


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