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World Cup hockey teams have no quarrel with security

india Updated: Feb 24, 2010 20:05 IST
IANS
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Reigning World Cup and Olympic hockey champions Germany, Spain and New Zealand have differing views on security cover provided to their teams here but they all seem to have taken it in their stride.

The New Zealand squad for the Feb 28-March 13 hockey World Cup feels it could well do with a bit of extra security personnel, particularly when it goes for practice sessions at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. The Germans and the Spaniards say they have no hassles moving about in the city.

A relaxed Black Sticks manager Kevin Marr told IANS at the team hotel that while there were no security problems once they were in their rooms, it was only on Delhi's chaotic roads that they were a little jittery.

Marr said they had communicated their fears to the authorities.

"Most of the guys are happy with the security at the hotel. But when we hit the road, we found stuck in such crowded traffic. There were vehicles coming from everywhere. If I rolled my window, I could have just touched anyone and anyone could have dropped anything inside the bus," said Marr.

All the 12 teams for the prestigious quadrennial event are staying at the Le Meridien Hotel under heavy police protection.

"We communicated our fears to the authorities and today the arrangements were much better. Apart from that we have no problems playing under the security cover," said Marr.

New Zealand, who delayed their departure for Delhi from Perth following terror threats by Al Qaeda, eventually decided to come after being reassured of foolproof security.

"We are here to play hockey and we are focussing on that. We are looking for a top-six finish. We had good practice sessions in Perth. It was equally warm there, with day temperatures reaching 30-33 degrees centigrade."

To give the New Zealanders a feel of the enormity of the event, Marr said, his team would watch the opening match between India and Pakistan.

"So, hopefully we will get the feel of the intensity of playing in the World Cup watching the India-Pakistan rivalry out on the turf," he said.

Germany, two-time World Cup winners and the 2008 Olympic champions, are happy with the security cover though they find it stifling to play in such an insulated environment.

"We are feeling as safe as we can be in a place like India. It is a bit strange to find heavy gun-totting security men around you. We are not used to such things back home," German head coach Markus Weise said.

"But we have decided not to be bothered about these things, But I think some players are not very comfortable with so much security which ironically plays on your mind."

On India's chances in the World Cup, Weise said: "It is difficult to say. Quite a few teams are capable of playing good hockey. It depends on what kind of a start India get and how consistently they play."

Spanish coach Dani Martin said his players were not bothered by the heavy security and it was good to feel safe.

"We are happy with the security. It might be an issue for some teams, but we have no complaints. We spoke to our people in the embassy and told them we feel completely secure," said Martin, whose team is in India's group.

"Our preparation for the World Cup has been good. We played some good tests against Holland, England and Germany and we either drew or won. I think we have a good chance," Martin said.

"But India can be a surprise package. We saw them play recently and they looked an improved side. Plus, they are playing at home. We will be following them keenly," he added.

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