Apprehensive coach welcomes Sandeep, Sardara's lifting of ban
Bangalore: Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and midfielder Sardara Singh might have got their bans lifted but India`s hockey coach Michael Nobbs is still apprehensive about the duo`s behaviour and said the senior players would have to prove their worth to get a place in the national team.
"The way they walked out of the camp in August still rankles. Apprehensions remain about their intentions. But in the interests of the Indian team, which needs to marshal every bit of its resources ahead of the qualifiers, I welcome them back to the camp," Nobbs said.
"However, this does not give them any headstart. They will continue to work harder than the others, prove their fitness and commitment to the team and the game whenever called upon to do so.”
"No doubt, past records state they are fine hockey players. But to me and to the team, they need to prove their credentials yet again if they are to find a place in the Indian national team," the coach added.
Sandeep and Sardara were handed a lifeline today after Hockey India lifted the two-year ban imposed on them for indiscipline, saying the two players were given "a last chance" to make amends for their mistakes.
Nobbs, however, "still rankles" at the way Sandeep and Sardara abruptly quit the national camp here last month ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy, but said the duo`s return will give him more options in the team`s preparation for next year`s Olympic qualifiers.
"That comes as good news to Indian hockey. The two have not been in their best behaviour in recent times but their contribution to the team cannot be discounted," Nobbs said.
"It wasn`t the most memorable of incidents to occur just ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy but Sandeep and Sardara obliquely helped the Indian team to realise its potential and inner strength at the Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China.
"While we would like to build on these core strengths, Sandeep and Sardar`s return will add to the team and give me more options as I prepare the boys for the Olympic qualifiers," the Australian added.
Nobbs, however, made it clear that he won`t tolerate any indiscipline in his team.
"As I said when I was appointed coach I want the best players playing for India but they must play for the right reasons.”
"Having given a written assurance to the disciplinary committee that they (Sandeep and Sardara) will not repeat the act and that they will put the country above all else, the two players have unconditionally committed themselves to India`s interests," he said.
"I have made it very clear that I will not tolerate this behaviour from any player and any player not playing by the team rules will be removed from the team immediately no matter who he is," the coach warned.