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Mervyn Fernandis

Use TV replays for disputed goals

January 15, 2004

India suffered its fourth defeat in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Wednesday, losing to Korea 2-3. It came as no surprise, since the young, inexperienced team has struggled since its first match. To add to its woes, two of its most experienced players, Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhilon, could not figure in the line-up due to injuries.

But despite the dismal results, one observation needs special mention: the body language of the Indian players was very positive, which is a very good sign.

We all are aware about the composition of the team and cannot expect miracles from these youngsters, some of whom are playing their first senior international tournament at the senior level. Coach Harendra Singh needs to be lauded for motivating the team and keeping morale high despite not recording a victory so far.

I hate to touch upon controversial issues, particularly umpiring. But it would be improper not to comment on Korea's first goal, which allowed them to draw level after India had taken the lead. Umpire Juan Manuel Reqena of Spain was unsure of himself. He first awarded a 16-yard hit and then, after consulting the other umpire following claims from the Koreans, blew for a goal.

I had dwelled upon umpires awarding goals when there is an element of doubt in them during the Champions Trophy and thought the FIH president and rules board would take cognizance of the seriousness of the issue.

In this electronic age, television replays provide the true picture of the action. Thus, the IHF must make use of them, whenever available, particularly for disputed goal bound shots and when the umpire is not sure. Else, the umpire must give the benefit of doubt to the defending team.

Imagine a team being done in by an umpiring error in the dying seconds of a crucial game in the upcoming Olympic qualifier in Madrid. All the hard work put in right through the match, leave aside the months of toil to reach there, will come to naught in a second.

The Indians, who were shaping well till then, were the ones to suffer from the umpire's indecisiveness and never recovered after that.

Korea's third goal was a beauty. Two minutes into the second half, they were awarded a free-hit outside the circle, which was executed perfectly. Teams can learn a lot from that set-piece. Yeo Woon Kon cleverly hid himself among the Indian defenders and, just before the ball was released, moved from a marked zone to an unmarked zone, timing his move perfectly. With his back to the goal, he trapped the ball and slammed a first-timed reverse hit, which is becoming the new weapon in modern hockey, that beat the Indian goalkeeper, who was unsighted by a host of players in front of him, all ends up.

Gagan Ajit Singh has mastered the art of the reverse hit and has scored many goals with it from the narrowest of angles. The Indians must watch the replay of that goal and work on the set-piece.

After a rest day on Thursday, India plays their concluding league match against Spain on Friday. With nothing to lose, they must go for it and play the attacking game they displayed after being 1-3 down against the Koreans. After all those narrow defeats, things can only get better.

Previous columns:
Dhanraj's injury is worrying
Halappa emerging as India's strike force
Penalty-corners proving costly
India gave Germany a run for their money

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Mervyn Fernandis represented India at the 1980, '84 and '88 Olympics. He also captained India at the junior World Cup in Versailles, France, in 1979.

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: Pathetic

Merwyn, With due respect, I am shocked to read your comments on umpiring. India in my opinion URGENTLY needs to understand the following truths: 1) ...

Posted by Soman


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