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Halappa: Again pressure situation in the Qualifier (12/6/2010)
--Rohit Sakunia
Arjun Halappa: Again it will be pressure situation in the Qualifiers

Having just returned from a heartbreaking semi-final loss to Malaysia at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, India’s senior-most player Arjun Halappa is back, and was seen playing at the Shastri Tournament, here in the capital. He still though is badly hurt by the loss and can’t believe what had happened in the extra-time

“Nothing went wrong you know. We were playing great hockey but it’s tough to even think of what happened in those 6 minutes. It seemed we just lost concentration and lost the game in those minutes. Actually frankly speaking we did not want to be in that situation so just being there was what hurt us and before we could come out of that, Malaysia stung. It was really heartbreaking,” said Arjun.

While speaking about the kind of hockey the team displayed Arjun minced no words in saying that this was probably the best hockey displayed in the last couple of years. “See whatever I say now will be seen as an excuse. Yeah I know we have lost to Australia by a huge margin at the CWG finals and minnows Malaysia beat us more recently but if we look at the kind of hockey we have played, I can say that this team has played its best hockey of late. We beat the other best sides of Asian Games Pakistan and Korea and beat them like we looked like beating them so overall the team has displayed good hockey on the pitch. We were the best side of the tournament and it’s unfortunate we didn’t win,” said the striker.

Arjun though wanted to stay away from the recent controversies that erupted when the foreign coach and captain spoke against each other after coming back, still said that had there been differences, things wouldn’t have looked so good on the pitch.

“See whatever each of them spoke, I can’t comment on that. I can just say that had there been differences during the games, you wouldn’t have seen such cohesiveness on the ground as was quite visible. Had the coach and skipper won’t have seen eye-to-eye, they wouldn’t have done good.

“In fact I would say that it is the joint effort of both the national (Harendra Singh) and the foreign coach (Jose Brasa) that have delivered. Both of them have worked real hard with all of us and we have been together for two years now which has also helped. As far as picking between a national and foreign coach is concerned, I would say it would be better for the federation to decide that. Whatever both the coaches and the captain have spoken are there words and I can’t comment on any of it,” said Halappa.

Though the qualifiers are still 14-months away, still Arjun says that there would be a little pressure playing those as it would be important to win and qualify especially after the bad loss last time. He though opined that since India will play in home conditions, that would be advantageous.

“It would be pressure playing those again. Had we won the Gold at Guangzhou, this wouldn’t have happened but since now we have to play, let’s get it straight, we are going to go all out and are quite sure of making it this time. Moreover we will be playing qualifiers in home turf so that adds to our advantages this time around and if we play same kind of hockey that we have displayed off-late am sure we will make it to London comfortably,” concluded the senior-most India player.

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Qualifiers without Brasa-14 months away
by Bala Bkrishnamurti on 12/6/2010 11:14:49 PM
Playing like we played in the last six months- with Brasa at the helm-with the qualifiers in India, i would give us the best chance of qualifying. Now- take away Brasa, and then put ourselves 14 months out- without Brasa at the helm-under yet another head coach- only hope things continue in the same vein and we continue to improve as we have been improving as a team. Fingers are crossed. I for one, don't have any faith in our hockey authorities to make the right decisions.......