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September 28, 2000
We had our chances but failed: Bhaskaran
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
‘Playing for pride’ wasn't India's forte on Thursday as the hockey team failed to shrug away the despondency of shattered aspirations and caved in against a resurgent Britain to stay out of the Champions Trophy yet again.
The Indian team management has been at its wits end for the last two days trying to motivate the players to overcome the low point of the draw against Poland which put paid to their their hopes of making the semifinals for the first time since winning the 1980 gold medal.
But motivating shattered players has not been easy, and coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran says his heart goes out to the players whose hard work was swept away by in the showers that became the order for India’s last two matches - - against Poland and Britain.
"The boys have been devastated after the late Polish equaliser left us out of the semifinals," said Bhaskaran. "I feel sorry for them... a talented lot whose years of hard work has come to naught.
"The missed semifinal is obviously still playing on their minds... it's not easy to forget these things."
Bhaskaran said the team knew a win against Britain would keep India in the Champions Trophy and they tried to give their best but without any reward.
"We had our chances but failed and the game plan did not get fully implemented in that context," he added.
India's despondency gave Britain its best chance of clinching entry in the Champions Trophy and the 2002 World Cup. The British team grabbed the chance as India faced a repeat clash with Argentina in the play-off for the seventh and eighth places.
India played as if they had lost everything while Britain saw the reward in the form of a place in the Champions Trophy and the World Cup.
Britain's captain Jon Wyatt said his team's resolve to end on a winning note contributed to the comeback from being at the bottom of the pool table until the last league match against Germany.
"We don't panic like some other teams and seem to be good at coming from behind," said Wyatt, his words conveying the prevalent despair in the Indian camp.
"We were pretty low after our first three games but to come back like this shows real guts and courage," he said.
For India it was the absence of composture and guts that seem to have spelt their doom. It's back to playing for the seventh and eighth places again -- for the third successive Olympics.
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