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Victory a boost for India ahead for future: Coach

Terming India's victory in the AAG final as "historic", coach Rajinder Singh said the performance would stand the team in good stead for the crucail tournaments ahead.

othersports Updated: Oct 31, 2003 22:58 IST

Terming India's victory in the Afro-Asian Games final against Pakistan on Friday as "historic", coach Rajinder Singh said the performance here would stand the team in good stead for the crucail tournaments ahead.

"This is a historic win. We have won the gold in the first Afro-Asian Games in an emphatic fashion. This is a memorable victory and this will give a big boost to the players ahead of several crucial tournaments," Rajinder Singh told reporters after India drubbed Pakistan 3-1 in the final at the Gachibowli Stadium here on Friday.

The Indian team has a packed schedule ahead as they would be playing a Test series at home against Netherlands and the Azlan Shah tournmaent in Malaysia within next three months.

After the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid in March, India would be touring Australia in April and Netherlands in June for two four-nation tournaments.

The chief coach said he was happy with the way his boys have been playing Pakistan in recent times but said they needed to tighten up in some areas to become a more potent force in world hockey. More

"No doubt they are playing well. It is mainly due to their hard work and determination that we are winning against tough oppositions including Pakistan at regular intervals. But still we have some shortcomings including the penalty corner conversion," Rajinder Singh said.

Attributing the win to "team work", captain Dilip Tirkey said the players had come into the match confident of winning the gold medal.

"We came to the match confident of beating Pakistan and wining the gold for the country," the dependable defender from Orissa said after the match.

"The win reflects the fighting spirit of the players and the way they played in the tournament. It was complete team-work.

"We want to build a winning habit and I am happy that we are progressing well in that direction," he said.

India's win in the tournament was significant since they came here without three senior players -- Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Baljit Singh Saini, who were rested by the hockey federation keeping an eye on future meets.

"Of course we missed the seniors but whoever was given the chance in the tournament utilised it to the maximum," Tirkey said.

Tirkey, who performs the dual role of defender as well as that of a short corner expert, said the side was experimenting with new variations in the absence of injured drag flicker Jugraj Singh.

"We are trying new variations in short corner and they are proving to be fruitful."

First Published: Oct 31, 2003 22:58 IST