New Delhi: The coach of the Indian hockey team has blamed the media for distracting the players. According to him, the players were being constantly distracted by what he calls "24 hour media coverage". The team left for Kuala Lumpur today morning to participate in the Asia Cup in Malaysia. Tiff over endorsements The hockey team's tryst with the media started with a media ban at the camp for the Asia Cup. But the coach is still unhappy. "The players were doing phonos all the time and they were busy with personal endorsements. This was affecting their concentration," said Rajinder Singh, the Indian hockey coach. The statement is perhaps indicative of the rife within the hockey team with some players unhappy with the endorsements that others are getting. But endorsements have certainly boosted the profile of the team in recent times. The worksaÂÂ¦ Sahara has been announced as the sponsor of the team and the amount assigned to the team is rumoured to be a whopping three crore rupees over the next 10 years. Three players have recently been signed up by a sports marketing company and a high profile designer has been roped in to design clothes for Gagan Ajit Singh. Jugraj missed Off the field, the team is beginning to feel the pressure. Penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh will be out of action for the next two months and the team has to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers coming up in March 2004. But first, India has to perform in the Asia Cup. "We will miss Jugraj but I am very happy with the way things have gone on in the camp and I am confident we can win," said the coach. Tough task ahead The winner of the Asia Cup gets an automatic qualifying spot for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it won't be easy. Group A has Asian Games Gold Medalist South Korea, hosts Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong. India in Group B will face their toughest challenge from arch rivals Pakistan and neighbours, Bangladesh and China. The top two teams from each group go to the semi-finals. After two tournament wins, the team faltered just a bit in the Champions Trophy. This time the media was the scapegoat but next time around the team could be running out of excuses.
Topics : Hockey