Team united, say coach and skipper

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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New Delhi:

The undercurrent was palpable but no one was willing to speak out on the controversy fuelled by the mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay recently when he accused junior players of deliberately trying to ignore him. The attempt to bury the episode was evident as coach Rajinder Singh and captain Dilip Tirkey vehemently denied there was anything wrong at all with the team. "There is no problem at all. Morale of the team is very high. We should not go for controversies before such an important assignment," Rajinder Singh said. A reticent Tirkey also said the team had performed quite well at champions Trophy and it was unfortunate that something happened in the intervening 3-4 days before the team's departure to Busan. "There is lot of unity in the team. Everyone is cooperative," Tirkey said. But the man in the eye of the storm, Pillay, again exposed the fact that everything was not alright by screaming at a journalist when he asked him why he did not come out for practice today. "It was totally unbecoming of him to behave in this manner. He had gone for some personal work. But he should have just politely said that," one of the IHF officials said. Pillay's outburst inevitably led the talk back to his allegations that he was not given passes in the match against Pakistan which India lost 3-4. "Pillay was fully marked in the match. Giving a pass to him would have been totally waste. But team spirit was very high throughout. There was no problem till we were leading 3-1 and in the last few minutes one cannot conspire against him," Rajinder Singh said. He, however, said he will talk at length on the entire episode once the team returned from Busan on October 15. The coach said the team was seriously trying to remove weaknesses in their game especially the tendency of the team to concede goals in the last minutes of the match. "Every team concedes a goal in the dying minutes and not only India because hockey is a very fast game. But we are definitely working on it. We intend to get it right in the Asian Games," he said. Tirkey said the team would try to hold the ball and improve its clearance in those crucial minutes of the game. The unassuming captain from Bhubaneshwar also said the team does get bogged down psychologically at times. "When we are leading and the other side is losing, the rival goes all out and becomes difficult to rein them in. But we will try to overcome our defence lapses." Tirkey denied fitness had anything to do with the team being unable to sustain the lead till the final hooter. "We are fit enough to play the entire 70 minutes of the match," said the captain who had his knee in bandages as it got hurt with the stick. "I will be perfectly alright by the time the team departs for Busan on September 24 as we have some job at our hands," Tirkey said. (PTI)