January 25, 2020
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'The Team Is Backing Me'

Determined to make his record fourth appearance in the Olympics a memorable one by 'winning a medal', the mercurial striker downplays the recent controversy of strained relations with teammates by saying 'Every player is supporting me and I am suppor

'The Team Is Backing Me'
'The Team Is Backing Me'

Back in contention for the Olympics, mercurial forward Dhanraj Pillay tried to downplay the controversy surrounding his strained relations with teammates that almost scuttled his dream of playing in a record fourth Olympics.

"Every player is supporting me and I am supporting them," Pillay said emphatically at the National Stadium  where the 26 probables have been undergoing training for the Athens Games.

Pillay was sidelined by the Indian Hockey Federation for three four-nation tournaments after he pulled out of the team for the Olympic qualifiers in March alleging some players were "talking behind me."

But today, the 35-year-old player appeared quite upbeat about getting another chance to represent the country in his fourth Olympics and he promised to make it memorable by winning a medal for the country.

"It's a dream for me to play in the Olympics and God has given me a chance to play in my fourth Olympics. Definitely with this team, I am very much sure that we can beat any team in the world. We can also win a medal," he said.

The veteran of over 300 internationals, Pillay also spoke on the training and competition programmes scheduled for the team in the build-up to the mega event.

India will leave for the United States on June 2 for a 21-day training programme that would see the probables getting specialised training from expert German coaches -- Oliver Kurtz and Gerhard Rach.

The team will have camps in Holland, Germany and Athens besides playing two four-nation tournaments in Amsterdam and Dusseldorf in the lead-up to the quadrennial extravaganza.

"The foreign coaches will be of great benefit. We will be getting scientific training which will definitely help us a lot. They (coaches) can help us in some areas. The tournament will prepare us for the mega event," Pillay said.

The player said despite all the training, India's fortunes in the Olympics would depend largely on how the players prepared themselves.

"The more we work hard, the better results we will get," was his advice to teammates.

"We are confident of doing well in the Olympics. But at the same time we also need a lot of support from the people. I request all to pray for the team."

Pillay also indicated he might decide on his future -- whether to continue playing at the highest level or hang his boots -- after his return from Athens.

"Right now my aim is to play in the Olympics. After returning I will have a detailed discussion with the (Indian Hockey) Federation.


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