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September 21, 2000

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Indians refuse to rise, fail to shine

Jaideep Singh

Late risers India once again paid a heavy price for their indifferent display at dawn.

The early morning game yet again proved to be Indiaís nemesis, a fact admitted, albeit reluctantly, by Indian captain Ramandeep Singh, who said it had a lot to do with the tiring effect of the fast-paced game against Australia on Tuesday evening.

"The timing of the match wasnít too good for us," said Ramandeep. "We did not get much rest between the Tuesday night match and this morningís fixture against the Koreans. That was a tiring game, and we got up at 5 a.m. today to be at the breakfast table at 7, so that we could make it in time for the 8.30 a.m. start.

"It did not set the stage for a fine display, but thatís no excuse -- we should have done better."

India has a notorious reputation of not being fully awake for morning games, and the indifferent performance against South Korea drove home the point. Which was a pity, since a win here would have ensured that India would have made it to the semifinals for the first time since 1980, in Moscow, where India in fact went on to win gold.

Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran however would have none of it. "I donít want to make excuses," he said. "We missed chances and they scored goals -- thatís it. There were no other factors involved -- neither the weather, nor the early morning schedule."

Bhaskaran is apparently infuriated at suggestions from the media that he is not utilising the bench strength properly.

"I feel the players are doing a good job and I donít want to use substitutes just for the sake of using them," he said. "Weíre still in with a chance to go through to the semifinals -- it is not like our chances evaporated with this defeat.

"In fact, I think we are in a very good position -- we need to win the remaining two matches, that is all," Bhaskaran said.

Skipper Ramandeep believes the two games still to come, against Spain and Poland, have become crucial, and the team will go for it. "We should be able to push this loss against Korea out of our mind, and win the next two matches," added the Indian captain.

Asked for comment on his own indifferent form, the Indian captain smiled. "I'll try to improve it," was his only answer.

Related stories:
Korea beats India 2-0
A lesson in the modern game: Cedric
Play of the day

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