New selectors reject IHF squad for Azlan Shah


New Delhi : The newly appointed hockey selectors Thursday rejected the developmental squad named by the dissolved Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) for the Azlan Shah tournament.

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The IHF had submitted to the sports ministry a 22-member squad, including 11 juniors, for the tournament starting May 8 in Ipoh, but the new selection committee felt that to send an experimental side to a major tournament will demoralise the junior players.

“It was a mixed squad that IHF had proposed for the Azlan Shah. Half the players were picked from team currently playing in Australia and the rest from the camp for juniors in Sonepat. We thought it is not proper to expose so many juniors in one go,” Ashok Kumar told IANS.

“We are not likely to make any major changes in the team that is currently playing in Australia,” he said.

Another selector Ajitpal Singh said the idea of sending two different teams to Australia and Ipoh was not a bad idea, but not with such large-scale changes.

Agreeing with his colleagues, chief selector Aslam Sher Khan said there was no point sending a developmental squad on an international assignment.

“Junior players can be sent for exposure trips but not for important tournaments. For us the Ipoh tournament will be an experimental one and our job will actually begin after the Azlan Shah,” said Aslam Sher.

Of the five selectors, only Dhanraj Pillay could not attend Thursday’s meeting. Obviously, he did not get the official intimation as other selectors received the letters of their appointment only Thursday, three days after the dissolution of the IHF. Ad hoc committee adviser Ric Charlesworth also attended the meeting. They will have another round of discussions Friday before naming the squad for Ipoh.

The selectors said they would get Joaquim Carvalho’s inputs on the performance of the players in Australia and would also take the views of coach A K Bansal who will accompany the team to Ipoh.

“We have called Bansal Friday and will in all probability select four or five junior players,” said Ashok.

IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh was also present at the meeting.

“There will be no IOA interference in selection matters. The selectors will also pick the junior national sides,” he told reporters.

He said the ad-hoc committee to run IHF will be announced soon.

“IOA President Suresh Kalmadi will decide on the ad-hoc committee. Our aim is to bring accountability and transparency to the whole system.”