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India still conceding late goals
June 13, 2003 16:58 IST
India are yet to find a lasting solution to the age-old problem of conceding last minute goals, as was witnessed during the three-nation Hockey Australia Men's Challenge recently, say two former hockey stars.
"There is no doubt about India's recent performance in Australia, but the traditional weakness to allow opponents strike back and surrender healthy margins exists," said Sylvainus Dung Dung and Manohar Topno in Ranchi on Friday.
"This is due to the complacency that has been plaguing the team traditionally," the duo added.
Ironically, both players represented the country as defenders in the 1980s.
"During our days we too used to develop complacency after taking wide leads, assuming it would take us to victory... But the fact is that one should remain alert till the final hooter as anything can happen in the last second," said Topno, who was the member of the 1982 Asian Games silver medal-winning team.
Topno also played in the 1984 Los Angles Olympics, the Champions Trophy, the Assanda Cup, the Asia Cup and Test matches against Pakistan besides other tournaments.
Sharing the views of his contemporary, Dung Dung recalled the 1980 Moscow Olympic final which was a close affair between India and Spain.
"The winning margin for India has always been narrow despite taking big leads, because we allow too many goals against us due to complacency," Dung Dung said.
However, the Moscow Olympics gold medallist said the triumph in Australia nevertheless is bound to put pressure on other top teams like Holland and Korea.
At the Hockey Australia Men's Challenge, which included Australia, Australia 'A' and Pakistan, India, after being well-placed, allowed its opponents to claw back into the match.
In the second-leg match against Pakistan, India were leading 3-1 but were forced to settle for a 4-4 draw.
In the final of the first leg too in Perth, India led Australia by a goal till five minutes from the end before the hosts rallied and scored twice -- the match-winner coming with 40 seconds remaining -- to win the match.
Topno and Dung Dung also praised their state mate Bimal Lakra, who was in the Indian team on the recent Australia tour, for his stupendous performance.