Striker Tushar Khandker said that while there were obvious sentiments attached by the Indian public to any India-Pakistan game,the team itself was not thinking about only the opening encounter of the World Cup. I dont know why everyone talks only about the Pakistan game. For us,every match is important and our target is to take one game at a time,and hope for enough crowd support and home advantage when we play all our matches, he said on Thursday.
Besides Pakistan,the hosts will also play Australia,South Africa,Spain and England in their Pool B matches. Asked about the lack of match practice,Khandker said,We have played a lot of matches against almost all the top teams in the past one year. It was all part of our preparation for the World Cup only and I am confident that our preparation is on in the right direction.
Hockey Indias acting president Vidya Stokes refused to answer any questions on the media being banned from covering the Indian teams practice sessions at the National Stadium. Her only refrain was,There is a security concern so the media has not been allowed.
It was a complete contrast to the mood in the evening,when the entire Indian team mingled freely with the media,interacting at will and sharing their experiences during the practice sessions. We dont know why the media has been kept out. This is the time when Indian hockey needs maximum positive exposure,public support and coverage. We hope they allow the media in, they said.
The morning press briefing was to announce ING Life Insurance tying up as a sponsor for the World Cup,but the announcement was lost in the furore created by Stokess repeated stonewalling of any queries from the media.
Subroto Roy as president?
In the evening,IOA president Suresh Kalmadi offered Hockey Indias presidency to Sahara India chairman Subroto Roy though the latter declined it. I am willing to completely support Indian hockey. There is no need to hold a post for that, Roy said.