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France upset India in first hockey Test

December 27, 2004 21:19 IST
Last Updated: December 27, 2004 21:27 IST


The Indian hockey team plunged to a new low with minnows France handing it a 3-1 drubbing in the first of the two Test matches at New Delhi on Monday.

France, playing a Test match outside Europe for the first time, taught the home team a lesson or two in the game before a couple of thousands of Indian supporters at the Shivaji Stadium with some aggressive play.

The visitors toyed with the Indian defence to slam home all the three goals in the first half itself and although India, who played like novices, reduced the margin at the stroke of the half-time, they failed to stop France from romping home victorious.

France, who have been on a roll since arriving in India two weeks back, made their intentions clear by scoring as early as in the ninth minute through Nicholas Gaillard.

The visitors made the scoreline 2-0 in their favour when Moreau Antoine scored a stunning goal in the 26th minute.

Antoine, getting the ball in the Indian 25-yard, dribbled past three defenders to enter into the circle before unleashing a powerful shot from the top left that beat goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan all ends up.

Jeanjean Sebastien scored off the rebound with just a minute to go for the break to put the side in a commanding position.

India struck back seconds later when Sandeep Singh converted the side's first penalty corner. Even though the performance of the French dipped in the second half, the Indians failed to take advantage and add anything more to the tally.

The frustration to break the stubborn French defence in the second half got reflected in the acts of the Indian players as two of them -- captain Dilip Tirkey and Sandeep Singh -- were temporarily suspended for foul play.

"It was disgusting. Probably we paid the price for being over-confident," India's interim coach Jagbir Singh said after the match.

"Most of the players have been playing continuously for the last 6-7 months and they may be tired. But that's certainly not an excuse," said Singh, who is in charge of the team in the absence of chief coach German Gerhard Rach.

But for France, it was probably their biggest win ever. 

"We could not have asked for anything more. A draw against such a team in itself would have been an achievement. But I am happy with the show of my players," France coach Reynard Bertrand said.

"This was a very good exposure and the win would definitely help the players."

The match saw Deepak Thakur and Bimal Lakra returning from wilderness, but even their presence could not change the fortunes of the side that has been struggling to perform at the highest level.

The 18-member Indian squad had 12 players who played in the recent Champions Trophy where the side finished outside the medal bracket.


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