Volta face by Rajpal, as Gill calls reports mischevious

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (UNI) In a dramatic volte face, hockey right winger Rajpal Singh today said his only priority was to play for the country and asserted that he never said that he would opt out of the Olympic qualifier scheduled in Santiago.

He also said there were no differences between him and coach Joaquim Carvalho.

The Chandigarh-based player who at present is in Perth, Australia with the national team said that he had no differences with coach Joaquim Carvalho.

''There is no question of not playing for the country in Santiago Olympic qualifier, I am working hard on my game with my teammates and is my dream to represent India in the Beijing Olympics'' he informed from Perth.

Rajpal, however surprised every body when he insisted that he has not talked to media ''I have not spoken to any media representative since coming to Perth on February 3. All that appeared in papers back home is only to create confusion amongst the players and rift between the coaching staff and the players.'' Meanwhile, Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief K P S Gill described media reports about Rajpal quitting the team as ''mischevious and false'' Talking to UNI over the phone, Mr Gill said he was surprised at these reports which according to him had no basis.

''The team has gone to train and practice in preparation of the crucial Olympic qualifiers and such false reports do no good to the team or the country'' ''The team is united, players are focused,'' he added.

Yesterday, a television channel had quoted Rajpal as saying that he would not take part in the qualifiers as he did not want to compromise with his self-respect.

''I have come to practice and not to waste time'' and that ''self-respect was more important than his career.'' However, today Rajpal was all praise for coach Joaquim Carvalho describing him as a father figure who has intrest of the team and country at heart.

Rajpal was of the view that whole team hold Carvalho in high esteem. His is a hard task master but that is what coach is for. We respect him for what he has done to our team in having moulded it as a fighting and winning combination.

Singing peans of the coach he disclosed that it was Carvalho, who brought him back. He has instilled confidence in me and has full belief in my abilities.

Carvalho, expressed surprise when told about the whole episode saying that he sees no reason for Rajpal making threat to quit and informed that right winger played in the main eleven yesterday like in the earlier games.

Rajpal plays for Indian Oil of which ''I am the coach. We know each other for long. In fact he has given in writing about his stand on the news item. He has denied having talked to any mediaperson.'' According to Gill, India had a successful tour having won all matches except the first one against Western Australia.

The visitors played six games and won five including two against Asian Games medallist China.

UNI HSB RKM RAI1958

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