Pillay's Olympic hopes suffer jolt

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/d/dhanrajpillai2.jpg' class='caption'> Dhanraj Pillay's hopes of playing in the Olympics suffered a jolt today with the IHF virtually ruling him out of the event at Athens in August.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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New Delhi:

Ace striker Dhanraj Pillay's hopes of playing in the Olympics suffered a jolt today with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) virtually ruling him out of the mega event at Athens in August. Pillay was not picked in an 18-member "experimental" side to play in a four-nation tournament in Japan, starting on May 13, and was not called to join a fitness camp for 12 other players at Barog. Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief K P S Gill said the probables for Olympics would be picked from these 30 players but added that one or two players could be considered from outside this pool of 30. "We would see the performance of the boys in Japan and after that we will see who would join the camp. We may consider making some changes and include one or two more players from outside the 30," said Gill. Team for Olympics Gill also said that the team for Olympics would be announced sometime in July after a four-nation tournament in Holland. He did not give any direct reply when asked about the chances of Pillay making it to the squad for the Olympics. "We can only take 16 players to Olympics. So we have to ensure that one who has the potential to play the entire duration of 70 minutes of tough games under extreme pressure are selected," he said. Two more senior players, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Baljit Singh Saini also found themselves excluded from the pool of 30. Dipping performance IHF's policy of playing musical chair in team selection has seen the performance of the side dipping in sharp contrast to last year when a balanced side had fetched the country victories in important international tournaments including the Asia Cup. But Gill was unfazed by the recent poor performances. "In the past when we played well in one tournament, in the next tournament it was just the opposite. So don't read too much into this," he said. Before the Athens Games, the eight-time Olympic champions would be playing a four-nation tournament in Holland from June 25 to July 5. They may also go to Germany for a similar tournament and a training programme in the lead-up to the quadrennial extravaganza. "We are looking for a place in Germany where our team can stay and continue training. The Germany Hockey Federation has also proposed a four-nation tournament but that has not been finalised yet," Gill said. Holland meet Besides the hosts and India, the Holland meet features Germany and Pakistan. If the Germany event takes place, Germany, England and France would be India's opponents. A 16-member team along with eight stand-byes would be picked for the Olympics after the Holland meet. The experimental side, announced today by Gill, would leave for Japan on May 12 and would play matches against Korea and China besides the hosts. (PTI)

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