Hyderabad: The year 2002 was not a great one for Indian hockey. The team failed to defend its title at the Asian Games. But it looks forward to a new calendar year and coach Rajinder Singh is busy on the drawing board. NDTV chatted with him in Hyderabad, where the National Games are in progressaÂÂ¦ Singh: I have watched almost all the matches. First of all those I have seen so far, I've noticed only the old players. I haven't come across any promising youngsters. There are three to four more days to go, so maybe we'll get to see some. NDTV: You mentioned the older players. Players like Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh Kumar and Dilip Tirkey are also playing at the National Games. Mukesh Kumar, in particular, is trying for a comeback. How realistic are his chances? Singh: I personally think there is no problem with age. Players such as Baljit Singh Dhillon are playing. There is no age bar as such. Whoever is physically fit and is performing well I think should be given an open chance. NDTV: You also said that there are no new promising faces that you have seen here. Isn't that worrisome? Singh: We have a lot of academies such as the Air India academy. Punjab and Sind has four academies and there is the centre for excellence. The players that have come out of these academies are in the age group of 20-21 and are very good. So we are hoping that we'll get good talent from these academies. NDTV: What are your goals in 2003? Singh: There are 45-50 players who have been selected and will be taken to various camps in Delhi and there is the Azlan Shah tournament in March. After that in June there is a tournament in Australia, followed by the Champions Trophy. So after March there are regular tournaments. NDTV: Are you satisfied with the bench strength? Singh: I want to forget whatever happened till the Asian Games. I just want to concentrate on the upcoming camps. We are going to look at the new 45 players, their weaknesses and set those right.
Topics : Hockey