CHANDIGARH, JAN 27 : The Indian hockey team could not have asked for a better platform than the Four-Nation Punjab Gold Cup Invitational Hockey Tournament being held from January 31 to Februry 9 in Chandigarh, for the 2010 World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in India.
These were the views of coach incharge Harendra Singh and skipper Sandeep Singh during an interaction with the media on Tuesday evening at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium. The Indian players had a workout in the morning.
The coach inchage seemed in high spirits particularly after the team’s triumphs in the first two matches against Argentina in the four-Test series in Argentina. "Although we lost the remaining two Tests for a 2-2 draw of the series, we have been able to identify the shortcomings and are working to overcome them", he added.
Harendra Singh was particularly thankful to the Punjab Government for providing a platform to play against the Olympic champions Germany and the world’s third ranked Holland. Seventh-ranked New Zealand is also a challenging team.
The matches against top teams would provide the players just the right exposure for the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. "We are in the right spirits and a repeat of 1975 World Cup triumph will be are aim",said the connfident coach inchage.
Sandeep Singh agreed with the coach that the gesture of the Punjab Government would go a long way in preparing the boys for the 2010 World Cup.
The hockey contingent has been housed in Taj Hotel where they will be joined by New Zealand, Holland and Germany in the next two days.
A lot of hockey fans had gathered at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium to have a glimpse of the Indian hockey stars. And the players obliged a handful of autograph hunters.
With the clearance of the major hockey tournament coming barely 10 days before the tournament there was hectic activity at the Punjab Sports Director’s office to make it a big hit. The organisers are hopeful of a representation from the Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH), the governming body of hockey in the world. The organising committee has extended invitation to FIF President Leandro Negre, hony General Secretary Peter Cohen, Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi, IOA Secretary General Raja Randhir Singh and other sports dignitaries.
This will be the first time that a state government will be hosting prestigeous a four-nation tournament. These are usually held by associations and federations of that particular sports discipline. Barring Olympic Games, India has hosted all other international tournaments. This is for the first time that the Four-Nation Invitational Hockey meet is being held in Punjab.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the sports portfolio, is eager to make the tournament a success.His dream is the revival of hockey in the country, particularly Punjab, which remained the nursery of the game when India won eight gold Olympic gold medals.
The tournament will be held from January 31 to February 9 in a double-leg round robin system with rest days on February 2, 5 and 8.