Rajpal eyeing winning start to his captaincy stint

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/hockey.jpg' class='caption'> He will lead the Indian hockey team in the Men's Champions Challenge I tournament in Argentina and Rajpal Singh said he is eyeing nothing less than a victory.

Updated: November 14, 2009 17:07 IST
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He will lead the Indian hockey team in the forthcoming Men's Champions Challenge I tournament in Argentina and Rajpal Singh said he is eyeing nothing less than a victory to start his captaincy stint on a positive note.

Rajpal on Friday replaced Sandeep Singh as the skipper of the 22-member Indian team for eight-nation event in Salta, Argentina from December 6-13, the winner of which will qualify for next year's Champions Trophy.

But soon after his appointment he made it clear that India would be using the tournament to finetune their skills and strategies before the next year's World Cup.

"It's a crucial tournament for us as we will be playing with a new planning. A new style of hockey will be seen as we will be mixing the European and Indian style during the tournament," Rajpal said from Pune.

"The winner of this tournament will qualify for the Champions Trophy and so the competition will be tough, but we are eyeing only victory.

"With World Cup coming up shortly, a lot is going to be at stake for us in this tournament. We will also know how we fare against a particular team and where we need to improve so that we can set our target for right," he said.

Rajpal said the team thinktank's decision to mix Indian and European style of hockey yielded fruitful results during the Canada tour and would give them an edge in the event.

"The team played really well in Canada. We are hoping that except for Canada this new approach should surprise our opponents and give us the advantage," the 25-year-old forward said.

"We are now playing well. In every match, a team has to adopt a different approach. In 2007 Asia Cup which we won 7-2 against Korea, all the goals were field goals and in some other matches, we score through short corners," he added.

Rajpal also said that chief coach Jose Brasa's tactics of rotating the captaincy was an innovative move, which was producing encouraging results.

"Coach Brasa has been working on this experiment and I feel it is a positive one. This way, every player will feel he can be entrusted with the responsibility. This can only better a players' game," he said.

India will play their first group match against New Zealand on December 6 before taking on China (December 8) and Belgium (December 10). The final will be played on December 13.

The Indian team will leave for Madrid on November 23 for a one-week training-cum-competition tour en-route Salta. 

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