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Injury-hit India routed
April 21, 2004 16:56 IST
An injury-hit India were upset 0-3 by Malaysia in their opening match in the second-leg of the four-nation hockey tournament in Sydney on Wednesday.
The match, played at the Hombush Olympic Park, saw Malaysia romping home with three second-half goals through Jiwa Mohan (38th minute) and Muhammed Amin Rahim (40th, 67th).
India, who had won their tie against the same side in the first-leg of the tournament in Canberra, were today bogged down by injuries to three key players -- striker Prabhjot Singh, mid-fielder Viren Rasquinha and defender Kanwalpreet Singh.
India offered a semblance of fight in the first-half, hardly giving any chance to their opponents to score and went to the half-time 0-0.
But three minutes into the second half, Jiwa Mohan struck for Malaysia. It was followed by a penalty-corner conversion by Muhammad Amin Rahim.
Rahim sealed the fate of the match in the dying minutes when he again sounded the board from a penalty-corner.
"Our greatest worry has been injuries facing our players. With only three months to go for the Olympics, it is a cause for concern to have Rasquinha, Prabhjot and Kanwalpreet all suffering muscle injuries. The challenge has been to play with all juniors and win the games," a disappointed Indian coach Rajinder Singh said after the match.
Rajinder, however, tried to draw solace from the fact that the tournaments are giving vital exposure to the players ahead of the Athens Games.
"Playing in Canberra and in Sydney has been very beneficial as it has given our players the opportunity to practice on very speedy and bumpy grounds," he said.
"It has also given us a yardstick to judge where we stand and we are working and improving on our weaker areas."
India, who were the finalists in Canberra, will play hosts Australia on Thursday.