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Last chance for coach to firm up squad

india Updated: Jan 19, 2012 01:55 IST
Navneet Singh

Thursday is a crucial day for the women probables, who are in the Capital for the national camp and hockey series against Azerbaijan. They have one last chance to prove themselves and win a place in the national squad that will compete in the London Olympic Games qualification tournament in February.

The hosts have some work to do as they struggled to a 3-0 verdict in the third test at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Coach CR Kumar fielded a full-strength side against Azerbaijan, a team ranked 15th in the world, three rungs below India, yet the players found the going tough. The coach defended his wards by saying that the aim was to gain experience against a team that plays the European style of hockey.

"In the three matches, the girls may have not been too impressive, but they have got valuable practice,” he said.

"There is nothing much to worry about at the moment. The current level of fitness is reasonably good and the players are skillful," he said.

In 21 attempts at the rival goal, India earned four penalty corners, but managed to convert just one. Sushila Chanu opened the account in the 3rd minute and was followed by Anuradha Devi (32nd) and Ritu Rani (67th).

Kumar is unlikely to experiment much today as this is his last opportunity to pick the final 18 girls. Leading 2-0 in the five-test series, the men play the third match against South Africa.