INDIA CAUTIOUS BUT OPTIMISTIC

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:49

Taking it one match at a time is what India coach Baljit Singh Saini intends to do at the 7th edition of the Junior Asia Cup that gets underway at the MBM Stadium in Malacca, Malaysia on Thursday.

With their berth in the 2013 Junior World Cup assured by virtue as hosts, Baljit felt that the pressure has eased on the other teams as well given the fact that there are now four berths available to the teams.

“Our initial target is to make the semis and from there on it is a question of progressing all the way to the title,” said Baljit when met after the team manager’s meeting.

“I have all the respect for the teams playing here and therefore would not want to make predictions for the tournament.

“My team is raring to start and I am confident that my charges have the ability to do well in this tournament.”

India had a 45 day preparation for this tournament at two venues, Bangalore and Pune. They commenced training on March 15 with an initial squad of 48 players minus those who were in the national senior squad training squad.

“We were fortunate that both the seniors and juniors trained at the two venues simultaneously,” said Baljit.

“This provided us with valuable sparring sessions and it worked out just fine for us.”

From the 18 players in malacca, nine players are also members of the national senior training squad. They are Amit Rohidas, Pradeep Mor, Thimmanna Puliyanda Lokesh, Satbir Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Prabhdeep Singh, Gurmail Singh, Sampath Kumar Maylaram and Malak Singh whose ability to score was exhibited at the SOJC last November.

India will be looking at Sukhmanjit, Amit and Sampath to convert the penalty corners.

Some 11 players from the Indian squad that played in the Sultan Johor Cup were not picked for the Asian Junior Cup squad.

Baljit was attached as an assistant to Michael Nobbs in the senior side for well over a year and was tasked to take charge of the juniors in March.

“My first task is to ensure that the juniors play the same system as the senior squad as one day these players will graduate into the senior ranks,” added Baljit who is likely to be placed in charge for the Junior World Cup finals as well.

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