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|November 2, 2001||
Doubt over Indian women qualifying for World Cup
Qaiser Mohammad Ali
The Indian women's qualification for next year's World Cup in hockey is in jeopardy after the game's world governing body belatedly referred a technical matter to its disciplinary panel, a senior official said.
If Lithuania's stand is upheld, the former Soviet republic, which failed to make the grade from September's qualifying meet in France, will automatically advance to the World Cup due in Perth in November-December 2002.
The top seven teams from France were to move into the World Cup. India, which finished seventh in the qualifying meet, looked like having made the grade.
But after Lithuania's suspension over a technical ruling in the meet, the FIH said that to qualify the sub-continental team must play a best-of-three series against the U.S., which did not turn up in France because of security reasons.
In France, India was to play the winner of the Lithuania-Ireland match for the seventh place. But that match was not completed due to a blunder involving the sequence of penalty strokes.
After the first set of tiebreakers did not break the deadlock, Lithuania won the second 6-5, but with a wrong sequence of strokes, thanks to a mix-up by an FIH official.
Ireland protested, and the two teams were told to again go for penalty strokes. But Lithuania did not turn up thinking it had already won, prompting the organisers to declare Ireland the winner and give it the fifth spot.
Since Lithuania was not available to play against India in a classification match, the FIH awarded the seventh place to India and asked it to take on the U.S.
Lithuania then protested, and the matter has been referred to the disciplinary committee. The panel will meet this month, K. Jothikumaran, secretary of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), told IANS.
"So there is no certainty about India making it to the World Cup proper," he said.
The Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF), which was asked by the FIH to pick the venue and dates for the series against the U.S., has already chosen New Delhi. FIH has now put on hold the series that was to be played before February.
England, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Ireland and Scotland are the six teams that have made it to the World Cup from the qualifying tournament.
--Indo-Asian News Service
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