Azlan Shah champions return home

April 14th, 2009 - 12:12 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The victorious Indian hockey team that won the Azlan Shah Cup returned here Monday.
The team, led by Sandeep Singh, beat Malaysia 3-1 in the final Sunday to register their fourth title triumph after 13 years.

However, the team met a tepid reception at the Indira Gandhi International airport. Had it not been for the media presence, the team’s homecoming would have gone largely unnoticed.

Skipper Sandeep Singh said the team is buoyed by their performance at Malaysia.

“The team played well. We are gelling well as a team and the results are for all to see. We reached the final of the Punjab Gold Cup and now we have won in Malaysia,” Sandeep said.

“It’s a great achievement considering that we have won Azlan Shah after 13 years.”

Sandeep had a special word of praise for S. V. Sunil who lost his father during the tournament but decided to stay on and play for the India squad.

“It was tough for him (Sunil). But his presence has been inspiring for others,” said Sandeep, who was adjudged the player of the tournament, finishing as the top scorer with six goals.

Coach Harendra Singh was equally estatic about the victory.

“We have set a goal to be among the top six in world by the end of the year. I am happy that the players are working with focus and dedication towards that goal.”

“We bounced back after drawing to minnows Egypt 2-2. The boys showed character and mental strength in beating Pakistan and Malaysia.”

“We will next play in Asia Cup in Malaysia in May and we have to give our best to defend the title.”

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