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Bhaskaran targets World Cup glory

Written by: Staff
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Gurgaon, Apr 7 (UNI) Asserting that India has the talent to be among the contenders for the top four positions at important tournaments and to be in the elite six, chief National Hockey Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran today said ''World Cup is the target for the team.'' ''I am a realist. I am not claiming that we will be world champions but I have belief in the players and I want them to start believing in themselves and that will help me in building a good team,'' he said.

After the four-nation tourney in Germany India will participate in the Azlan Shah Tournament in Malaysia and followed by the World Cup in September.

So ''Our focus is and has to be on that global event.'' ''I want to have a nucleus of around 22 players after the Azlan Shah Tournament so that we start our preparation for the World Cup.

I firmly believe that we have talent. Only thing is that we have to start winning. We have good players but the problem is they are playing well in patches. They need to play more consistently for winning games,'' the coach added.

He said his stress is on strengthening of the midfield which would help the forwards.

''I believe in attacking hockey. You have to keep the rival defence under pressure. I am also of the view that the team should always be ready to play according to the plan. Reading the situation in a match is crucial,'' he said.

Bhaskaran said he wanted a very incisive and penetrating attackline.

''Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandekar and of course Gagan Ajit Singh are good. There are other players also but I do believe that Gagan has the penetrative power to break through any defence.'' About other players he said drag flicker Sandeep Singh needed to play at a position where he could develop. He may be used as a centre-half and left-half and slowly develop his field play.

''I am vey sure he will get his confidence back very soon,'' he hoped.

He lavished praise on Jugraj Singh saying, ''He has displayed tremendous will power and after that (car) accident, when every body had written him off he returned with vengeance,'' and added ''For his sheer will power Jugraj always deserved a place in the team.'' ''Tejbir Singh has it in him to be a solid player for the Indian side. He needs a lot of strength training and should throw away his negative attitude. Tushar Khandekar also has the requisite skills and the vision to be a complete striker,'' he pointed out.

''The four Nation Tournament at Monchengladback in Germany will do the team a lot of good. We will get the feel of the World Cup Venue and a good showing there will be morale boosting in the run up to the World Cup,'' Bhaskaran said.

The coach made it clear that no deserving player would be ignored and no liability would be accepted.

''Door is open for all who deserve,'' he added.

UNI HSB PM RN1826

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