Raghunath, Vikas to replace Sardara, Sandeep

New Delhi: Drag-flicker V Raghunath and mid-fielder Vikas Kumar was roped in place of Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh in the squad for the Asian Champions after the two senior players abruptly left the national camp, currently underway in Bangalore.

Sandeep and Sardara, who made their way into the team for the Asian Champions Trophy, left chief coach Michael Nobbs and his support staff in a tizzy with their sudden decision to leave the camp on Tuesday, reportedly due to an argument with the team management.

No sooner that happened, Hockey India selection committee had replaced the rebel duo with standbys Raghunath and Vikas.

"I don`t know whose permission they have taken before leaving the camp. But with just days to go before the team`s departure for China for the Asian Champions Trophy, they have been automatically replaced by Raghunath and Vikas in the squad," Hockey India selector AB Subbiah said.

"It`s an unfortunate situation. It`s pity to see that they don`t give priority to national duty."

Incidentally, both the players cited personal reasons for leaving the camp. However, it was learnt that both Sardara and Sandeep does not have good equation with the team management and other players, which the latter blatantly refused.

"I don`t have any issues with the coach (Nobbs) or any other member of the team management. I left because I have some presing family issues which I need to attend," Sandeep said.

"I took the coach`s permission before leaving. Even I consulted HI secretary general Narinder Batra who asked me to take coach`s permission."

Asked whether he will play in the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China from September 3-11, Sandeep said, "I`m still not sure. Probaly, by tomorrow I will take a decision."

Sardara, apparently, did not see eye-to-eye with skipper Rajpal Singh and was not in talking terms with him, affecting their rapport on the field.

However, he refused to accept that bad equation with the team management or Rajpal was the reason behind his decision to ditch the camp.

"I don`t have any differences with coach Nobbs. And as far as Rajpal Singh is concerned, I am not on talking terms with him off the field but it doesn`t reflect on our game," he said.

"I have yet not decided whether I will participate in the Asian Champions Trophy or not. I have to discuss it with my family."

Asked about the reason behind his sudden change of mind just nine days ahead of the tournament, Sardara said, "I am not mentally prepared to take part in this tournament. We had gone to Mumbai to take part in the World Series Hockey function but that led to a controversy and it affected my game. I was not able to concentrate on my game.

"But let me make it clear I have no retirement plans."

Incidentally, both Sandeep and Sardars were part of the famous five -- Adrian D`Souza, Prabhjot Singh and Arjun Halappa being the other three -- who had quit the national camp without permission to take part in the World Series Hockey launch in Mumbai last month.


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