Medal from Saina assured,Gopichand banks on others to increase tally

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Pune, Oct 12 (UNI) Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal's credentials and form make her India's best bet for a gold medal, but team coach Pullela Gopichand said the badminton contingent has great potential and was confident to bag at least four medals in the Commonwealth Youth Games which begin here today.

''What matters is how you play on that particular day but yes, Saina definitely is a major contender for a gold here,'' Gopichand told UNI today after the team's practice session.

''I think you can not rule out the fact that there are other players also in the team and we have the team which can spring in a few surprises as they have been playing very good lately,'' he added.

The former All England Champion said he had great hopes from N Siki Reddy whom he believes is another medal hope for the country.

''I believe along with Saina, Siki has strong chances to win a medal here.'' However, he pointed out, even with form on her side, Saina will not take it easy and said he has already cautioned his team to be wary of their Malaysian and Singaporean counterparts.

''I think Malaysia and Singapore have good teams but yes, we will put in our 100 per cent to make sure that even if some wins against us, he has to earn it,'' he noted.

When the Malaysian coach Kar Lin Koay was asked about the Indian team, he said he was been noticing Guru Sai Datt for a couple of days and was very impressed with his game.

''I have been watching Guru for last two days and Guru has really impressed me a lot and I see great potential in him,'' he said. Guru will also lead the Indian challenge in the doubles events.

The Indian coach further added that the whole team was geared up for the event of this scale and said pressure would hardly deter their confidence.

''I know they are young but it is always a proud feeling to play for your country. We have the home advantage here and hopefully we would capitalise on that,'' he said.

Gopichand was pleased with the facilities that have been provided to the players and was sure to make use of them before his team begin its campaign.

The Indian team had an hour long practice session in the morning today where Gopichand was teaching his young wards some of the nuances of the game individually after which they went for some light drills.

UNI RAR AB PM1322

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