New Delhi: Indian hockey coach Jose Brasa will have to wait for at least 15 more days to get his squad to train at the National Stadium here — venue for the World Cup beginning February 28.
On Tuesday, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi said the venue was "almost ready" and would be made available to the national squad from the first week of February.
"The stadium is in the final lap. I hope the Indian team can start training here in the first or second week of next month," Kalmadi said.
The announcement comes a month after the IOA chief had set December 15 as the "final date" for completion of work at the venue.
Brasa, on the other hand, is livid and wants his squad to shift from Pune to Delhi at the earliest. "I do not understand why there is a delay in sending the team to Delhi. The turf has been laid, the floodlights are ready... they can complete the rest of the stadium side by side. We just need the turf to begin training. The players have to acclimatise to the facilities as we are playing the World Cup here," Brasa said.
Meanwhile, International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Leandro Negre, along with several other officials, visited the National Stadium on the day.
Said Negre, "The FIH had a lot of concerns that things were not organised properly in one of our member countries. But now we are very happy with how things are moving here. The stadium is coming up nicely, and will be one of the most important hockey stadiums in the world."
Incidentally, there won’t be any tournament to test the facilities at the venue before the World Cup following the cancellation of the four-nation event earlier this month. But the FIH president said a test event was not mandatory for a hosting nation.
"It is not mandatory but we had recommended it as the stadium is a new one. As far as I know a few matches will be played here before the World Cup," he said.
Sports ministry objects to Mander’s appointment
Meanwhile, the sports ministry on Tuesday objected to G.S. Mander’s appointment as the returning officer for next month’s Hockey India elections, saying no one from either HI or the Indian Olympic Association could be part of the electoral process. "GS Mander heads the Wrestling Federation of India and is also an IOA vice-president and the government has already made it clear that no one from either Hockey India or IOA should be part of the electoral process," said S.K. Mendiratta, government-appointed observer to HI elections.
The Asian Age