New Delhi, Feb 14: A day after his dramatic disclosure that he will pull out of the Olympic hockey qualifiers in Chile, India’s ace winger Rajpal Singh did a volte face on Wednesday claiming that he had never made such a statement and had no differences with coach Joaquim Carvalho.
Rajpal, who is currently with the Indian team at Perth, said he was fully focussed on playing the qualifiers in Santiago next month since taking part in the Olympics was his long-cherished dream.
“I have not spoken to any media representative since coming to Perth on February 3. All that appeared in papers back home is only to create confusion amongst the players and misunderstanding between the coaching staff and the players,” he said.
Rajpal had created ripples in hockey circles on Tuesday after being quoted by a television channel that he would not take part in the qualifiers as he did not want to compromise with his self-respect.
The player was quoted as saying that he had come to Perth to “practice and not to waste time” and that “self-respect was more important than his career.”
Rajpal’s denial comes as a surprise since the interview was recorded. But the backtracking could have come after pressure from the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) bosses. Rajpal admitted that he had clarified his stance to the IHF this morning and had told them that he was surprised to know about the media reports.
Rajpal said that he respected Carvalho as the coach worked in best interests of the team. “Joaquim sir is a fatherly figure and we all respect him. He may be strict at times but we all accept him and his decisions are taken in the interest of the team and the game.”
Asked to specify whether he had any misunderstanding with the coach, Rajpal said, “No way. I never had. We respect him for what he has done to our team in having moulded it as a fighting and winning combination.
“He is the person who brought me back. He has instilled confidence in me and has full belief in my abilities. I would like to concentrate on the game. I am not an Olympian as yet and my goal will be fulfilled when India qualifies for the Beijing Olympics and I play in the games.
“I am fully focused towards my game and eagerly looking forward to the Chile tournament.” Carvalho, on his part, said that he had “no clue” about such reports or Rajpal being unavailable for the Chile tour.
“I have no clue whatsoever about these. If he is walking out of the team and not wanting to play, Rajpal would not have come for training.”
As for Rajpal having talked to the media back home, Carvalho said, “if he had any problem, I am confident that he would have told me first. He has been playing for Indian Oil of which I am the coach. We know each other for long. In fact he has denied having talked to any media-person.”
Summing up the tour of Perth, Carvalho said it was a successful one. “In respect of both training and competition, we had a successful tour having won all matches except the first one against Western Australia. We have won five matches in all including two against the National side of China,” he said.