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September 23, 2000
India is playing with style and class: Spanish coachJaideep Singh
Spanish men's hockey coach Toni Forrellat paid India a compliment despite seeing his team's glorious four-year run come to an end.
"India is looking very good...they are playing with class and style," Forrellat said.
"From what I've seen so far, India should be in medal contention," he said. "And if India takes a medal here it will be a contender for future international events.
"I've not seen the Indians play so impressively for a while, but I must say that they played a fine match against us in Atlanta."
India beat Spain in the last league match of the 1996 Olympics after Spain were already through to the semi-finals and India's hopes had come crashing down to earth. That was the only defeat Spain suffered until the final against the Netherlands.
"I'm sad to go out of the tournament this way," Forrellat said. "We should have beaten India today... and that victory would have been something since we too played an expansive attacking style of hockey like India.
"We played India at their own game and surely created some ripples. But I think we should have been more aggressive... that could have been the missing link in our game after putting the Indian defence under immense pressure.
"It was a very difficult group and the two teams with the best mental resolve will go through to the semifinals. India shouldn't forget that Australia and South Korea are still in the race...it won't be easy for any team."
As if taking a cue from Forrellat's words, Argentina made life miserable for hosts Australia, which is seeking a unique and historic golden double in hockey.
No country has yet achieved this distinction. But the Aussies had bigger problems as Argentina took the lead and held on to it till late in the second half. But two late penalty corner goals brought them back to the top of Pool B standings.
Forrellat said his team started badly in the competition but had sorted out the problems before taking on India.
"We were back to our best and it reflected in the way our team attacked the Indian goal," he said. "I think India too had a lot of things on their mind after the loss to South Korea. The difference between Spain and India was that we missed chances and they converted the few they got.
"India doesn't always convert the chances so well, but that seems to be this Indian team's strength."
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