Triumphant Indian hockey team arrives home

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The triumphant Indian hockey team, which won the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia after a gap of 13 years.

Updated: April 14, 2009 16:37 IST
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New Delhi:

The triumphant Indian hockey team, which won the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia after a gap of 13 years, returned home to a warm reception on Monday.

The Indian team contingent, including coach in-charge Harendra Singh, were received at Indira Gandhi International Airport here by officials and a few well-wishers.

IOA-appointed ad-hoc committee member AK Mattoo and ad-hoc selection panel chairman Ajit Pal Singh were there at the airport to receive the team members.

India regained the Azlan Shah Cup after 13 years after beating Malaysia 2-1 in the final in Ipoh yesterday.

Captain Sandeep Singh said the team's next target was to do well in the Asia Cup next month.

"It was a good performance by the team. Even before going for the tournament we knew we had a good team and we were confident. The next target is Asia Cup," he said.

Praising SV Sunil, who stayed back with the team despite his father's demise, Sandeep said, "Sunil is a true soldier.

Even in that situation he wanted to stay back. We dedicate the win to his father."

Harendra expressed satisfaction with the victory but said the boys will have to improve if they want to do well in other tournaments.

"It was satisfying (to win the Cup) but we need to improve a lot. We would sort out the problems in the camp before the next assignment," he said.

The team touched down at the airport at around 2200 hrs.

Senior player Dilip Tirkey, who became the most capped international player during the Azlan Shah Cup, said he would want to carry as long as possible and help the team win more tournaments.

"As a senior player there was always pressure to perform.

My aim would be to keep playing as long as possible and help the team," said the former captain.

Team manager Dhanraj Pillay said the country can do well under Indian coaches.

"We can do well under Indian coaches. I don't think we need foreign coaches. Indian coaches are better, they have produced great players," he said.

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