Victorious junior team back home

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The victorious Indian junior hockey team captain Gagan Ajit Singh says his team peaked at right time with the defeat against Australia coming as a wake-up call.

Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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The victorious Indian junior hockey team captain Gagan Ajit Singh today said his team peaked at right time with the defeat at the hands of Australia coming as a wake-up call. "It was an exciting experience and I think losing to Australia 1-2 in league stage was some sort of a wake-up call for us and we really won the battle of nerves in the final," he told reporters on arrival of the team here. "It was good to be together and we played to a plan. In fact, the whole team performed well and it is a fantastic feeling to win a big tournament," skipper said. "The winning has been so exciting that the 18-hour journey has not dampened us and none of us look worn out despite the long journey," Gagan Ajit added. The coach Rajinder Singh praised the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief K P S Gill's efforts to give more exposure to youngsters "which has resulted in the junior team's fine performance." Singh said winning the Junior World Cup was a good sign and the Indian hockey has got a shot in the arm. "With this win I can confidently say there is a bright hope for the game in future and IHF will capitalise on this." Gagan Ajit said that before the final he had told his boys that a silver was not good enough. "We have come this far (to the final) and only winning the gold was fitting reward", he told the boys and "they obliged with a big win" (6-1) against Argentina. "We struck early blows in the final but they put pressure on us in the second half with a goal and I thought we were in for a tough fight. However, we counter-attacked their moves and converted the opportunities and won handsomely in the end," the skipper added. Gagan Ajit said the morale of the team was high throughout the tournament and they played with good team spirit. "I think if the senior team also play with the same spirit they too will come up triumphant," he added. Rajinder Singh was all praise for Gagan Ajit for his fine captaincy and said Deepak Thakore, Bimal Lakra, Prabhjot Singh, Jugraj Singh and Ignace Tirkey are the players to watch for the future. "After we lost to Australia 1-2, the youngsters showed their fighting qualities and improved in every match and the margin of victory in the final shows the amount of confidence the youngsters had in themselves," Rajinder Singh added. In 1997 edition, India had made it to the final but lost to Australia 2-3. (PTI)

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