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After an injury lay-off, Danish eyes comeback

It has been a roller-coaster ride for two-time hockey Olympian Danish Mujtaba who has seen many ups and downs in his nine-year career.

sports Updated: Mar 06, 2018 17:13 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Olympian Danish Mujtaba,Hockey,Olympics
A file photo showing Danish Mujtaba celebrating a goal during an international match.(HT)

It has been a roller-coaster ride for two-time hockey Olympian Danish Mujtaba who has seen many ups and downs in his nine-year career.

However, his hopes and aspirations for making a comeback in the Indian side are still high as he wants to fulfil his dream of playing three Olympics.

Danish, 29, believes in the saying that where there’s a will, there’s a way and that is why he is eyeing the upcoming senior nationals (March 15-25 in Lucknow) to knock at the doors of Indian team once again by giving a superlative performance after almost a year of injury lay-off.

“There are players who are already doing well for the Indian team but I am hopeful of a comeback. I still find myself good enough to sport the India jersey again by showing my skills and performance in domestic events,” said Danish, who would be representing hosts and former runners-up Uttar Pradesh at the senior nationals.

“I have undergone physiotherapy session and working hard on my fitness which is the key to success in hockey,” he said, adding, “The only formula to stage a comeback to the national side is to play to your full potential and remain fit.”

Danish, who hails from a family of hockey players in Allahabad, has so far scored 25 goals in as many as 133 appearances for India. He had a knee surgery soon after 2016 Rio Olympics and could play just a few matches of the Hockey India League last year.

“I never lost hockey even when I was nursing my injuries. I kept watching almost all the games of India and even reading about the performance of every player. Undoubtedly, the competition is tough as junior players who have graduated to the senior side have potential but I am trying hard to show my class,” he said.

Danish made his debut for the national team in 2009 and represented India in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and 2016 Olympics in Rio.

He was a part of the Indian side which won a bronze medal at the 2015 Hockey World League at Raipur. He also had silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and at the 2014 Glasgow Games.

Before playing the nationals, Danish will also play for his department, UP Power Corporation Limited, in the All-India Power Sector Hockey Tournament starting Wednesday in Hyderabad.

“Every game is important to me and Hyderabad event will give me a chance to test myself before the nationals,” said Danish. He said the Indian team had the potential to make it to top four grades in world ranking.

“When I started playing for the national side, India were somewhere on the fifth or sixth spot. Things haven’t changed much but time has come when we need to break into top four as we are one of the best sides in the world. The team’s showing at the upcoming events including CWG, Asian Games, Olympic qualifier and World Cup could help India make the grade,” said Danish, who also had a gold and a bronze medal at the two Asian Games.

Appreciating an aggressive professional approach of Hockey India in building the side for big events in future, Danish accepted that a change in coaching and technical staff after the Rio Olympic was good for the game.

“Every coach has his own style of training and coaching. A change after the Rio Olympics was a must. I am happy to see an aggressive professional approach in coaching,” he said.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 17:13 IST