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Sandeep continues to bide time

Out of national contention, Sandeep is currently playing for his employers Indian Airlines in the ongoing Nehru hockey tournament, reports, Uthra Ganesan.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2007 23:36 IST

Approach Sandeep Singh, even for exchanging pleasantries, and the young drag-flicker is wary. "Half the time, I don't even know what's being attributed to me in the media, even though I never refuse to speak," he says.

Out of national contention, apparently because of differences with coach Joaquim Carvalho, Sandeep is currently playing for his employers Indian Airlines in the ongoing Nehru hockey tournament here. On Tuesday, the youngster was on mark, scoring a brace to ensure a hard-fought draw for IA against Namdhari XI.

On his fitness, Sandeep says, "I am fit. I proved it in domestic tournaments and in the German League (where he was the highest scorer for TG Frankenthal) and you saw me play here also. I don't know what else I have to do to prove myself."

Carvalho has been critical of Sandeep and his "attitude" for some time now, apart from questioning his abilities. "I have never avoided hard work. Right from my junior days, whatever my shortcomings, no one has accused me of that (wrong work ethics) at least," he counters.

Sandeep last played for India at the Champions Challenge in Belgium in June this year. Since then, he has been in and out of the squad, missing out on the Asia Cup due to yet another injury suffered during the preparatory camp in Bangalore.

What about his being "inaccessible," as claimed by Carvalho prior to the Asia Cup? "I don't know. I have the same phone number for the past two years. Anyone can call me, any time. But no one has bothered," he clarifies.

On Tuesday, Sandeep did look shaky in defence, but his penalty corner conversions did not look dodgy. His big test, though, will be in the PHL next month, which has become the benchmark for domestic talent for the past few years. "I hope I am considered for the national camp after the PHL. If I perform well and still can't make it, I would definitely think that being born in India, and deciding to play hockey was a mistake."

For a nation perennially short of performers in sports, losing someone like Sandeep due to personal differences would be indeed be sad.

First Published: Nov 20, 2007 23:20 IST