Perth tour was a big success for us: Carvalho

February 16th, 2008 - 7:42 pm ICT by admin  

By Anand Philar
Chennai, Feb 16 (IANS) Indian hockey team’s chief coach Joaquim Carvalho feels that the recent training-cum-competition tour of Perth, Australia, helped the players to improve their fitness levels and also provided data on their form. Speaking to IANS from his Mumbai residence, Carvalho, who returned with the team late last night, said: “It was an excellent tour in every respect. We played six tough matches, winning five and the results boosted the morale of the team.

Fitness wise too I was quite happy with the players and we now look forward to the Olympic qualifier in Chile with a lot of confidence.”

The fortnight-long trip to Perth was the final phase of the team’s preparations for the all-important Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in Santiago, Chile, from Mar 1-9 with India vying for the lone spot along with Great Britain, Austria, hosts Chile, Mexico and Russia.

Carvalho disclosed that the 18-member national squad for the Chile tournament would be announced shortly and the players are scheduled to assemble in Bangalore Feb 20 before departing for Santiago Feb 25.

India beat Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) 6-1 in their tour opener, followed by a 3-2 loss to Western Australia (WA), but bounced back to beat China 3-1 and 4-1, and the WA side 3-1 and 3-1 to round off the campaign.

“All the matches were tough and I am happy at the way the players performed. We converted most of our penalty corners through Dilip Tirkey, Ramachandra Raghunath and Diwakar Ram, besides scoring field goals. All the players are in peak condition and form,” said the coach.

As regard to penalty corner conversion, the perennial weak point with India in the past two decades, Carvalho felt that there has been noticeable improvement overall.

“We now have three options — Dilip Tirkey, Raghunath and Diwakar. So, that’s a huge plus point for us. Raghunath is shaping up well as a forward and even set up a marvelous goal against China.

“Dilip, of course, is the most experienced player in the team and Diwakar has been performing well at full-back position,” he said.

The only concern for the team was a knee injury to their key midfield player, Sardara Singh who did not feature in any of the six matches in Perth.

“We consulted Australian doctor and they said the injury was minor. I didn’t want to take any chance and so we didn’t play him.

“He is too valuable a player to risk, but I am sure, he will be fully fit by the time we arrive in Santiago,” Carvalho said.

He also expressed satisfaction at forward Prabhjot Singh’s fitness. The wily winger missed out a few Test matches against Belgium in Chennai last month owing to a broken middle finger.

“Prabhjot has fully recovered and in fact, he scored two classic goals in the last match. I am extremely happy at the way he has shaped up. He is in the kind of form we saw in the Asia Cup final last year,” Carvalho said, referring to Prabhjot’s spectacular performance in last year’s Asia Cup final at Chennai where India defeated Korea 6-2.

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