Sandeep fit to play in Champions Challenge and WC: Mattoo

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Hockey India President A K Mattoo cleared the air over Sandeep Singh's participation in next month's Chammpions Challenge tournament and 2010 World Cup.

Updated: November 20, 2009 11:16 IST
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New Delhi:

Hockey India President A K Mattoo on Friday cleared the air over Sandeep Singh's participation in next month's Chammpions Challenge tournament and 2010 World Cup, saying the ace drag-flicker has recovered from his back injury and is expected to be part of both the events.

"I am 100 per cent certain Sandeep will play in the World Cup. How can you decide about whether a player would be in the World Cup team three months before the tournament," Mattoo told reporters here during the Presenting Partner agreement signing function between Steel Authority of India Limited and International Hockey Federation.

"He will be there in the team. He had a back injury but he has come out of that. Sandeep will also play in Champions Challenge," he added.

Sandeep's participation in both the events came under cloud after chief coach Jose Brasa earlier this week said that the back injury, which he sustained during last month's Canada tour, will see the drag-flicker out of both Champions Challenge to be held in Salta, Argentina, from December 6 to 13.

Sandeep was subsequently replaced by Rajpal Singh as the skipper of the national team for Champions Challenge from Dec 6-13 but Mattoo overruled the decision, saying they are yet to finalise the captain.

"Captain was never an issue, the issue was lack of communication between the coach Brasa, players and the support staff", Mattoo said.

"The captain is not yet decided. HI will take a decision on captaincy within a few days," he said.

The HI chief also claimed that the revival of Indian hockey was heading in the right path and assured FIH that the the nation would host one of the best World Cup.

"Indian hockey is moving forward in the right direction. In coming days we will see hockey back on track," Mattoo said during the function which was also attended by FIH President Leandro Negre.

"I assure Mr Negre that we will ensure the best World Cup," he added.

The FIH chief said the mega-event is vital to Indian hockey's development.

"The event is of immense importance to Indian hockey. The World Cup will be a great catalyst in reviving Indian hockey. Let us hope India may rise again in world hockey," Negre said.

Minister of Steel Virbhadra Singh, who was also present on the occassion, urged both public and private sectors to extend their helping hand in the game's revival.

"I am happy that the World Cup is being staged in India.

I am happy that SAIL is associated with the event as a Presenting Partner. Once hockey was country's main game but lately it is being pushed back and is struggling to find a place," Singh said.

"I think both public and private sector should come forward and support the game as well as sportspersons." he added.

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