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Sandeep Singh's showing lauded
December 12, 2005 16:14 IST
The Indian and Pakistan team coaches showered praise on drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, whose two stunning goals turned Sunday's Champions Trophy hockey match head-on after the home team was down and out, trailing 0-2 with ten minutes remaining.
Speaking after India's dramatic 3-2 victory over Pakistan, India's coach Rajinder Singh (jr) admitted that the team was under pressure, but said the players rose to the occasion.
He described the contest as a high-quality encounter, and said it was the best match of the tournament so far.
''Playing against Pakistan is always like playing a final. Down by two goals after dominating we ware under pressure. But we did well,'' he added.
Stating that the confidence is back with the players after the unforgettable victory, Rajinder said India played attacking hockey right from the start.
''But it was the same old story as we kept missing chances. As the match progressed the boys played really well."
Skipper Gagan Ajit Singh too was all praise for Sandeep Singh, saying the team's defence was well-organised.
''We stuck to a plan and strategy and it clicked
''We dominated them in the first 15 minutes and earned four penalty-corners, but we were not able to convert them," he added.
Observing that India should have beaten Spain in their opening match on Saturday but for some minor mistakes, the skipper said the moment Tushar Khandekar pulled a goal back to make the scoreline 1-2, Sandeep came up to tilt the scales in favour of India.
''Tushar's goal was the turning point and then Sandeep took over," he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistani coach Asif Bajwa said the two goals by Sandeep made the difference in the end.
He said he was satisfied with the performance of the Pakistani team, but was disappointed with the outcome of the match.
''The performance was satisfying, though the results are disappointing,"
On the remaining matches ahead, he said the team is down but not out.
''We are not disheartened. We will do better in the remaining matches,'' he added.
He praised the performance of the Indian team, saying, ''India played a very good and attacking game. I must appreciate them.''
After the first two rounds of matches, India moved to third place with one win and one loss, while Pakistan, who were beaten 1-4 by the Netherlands, suffered their second successive reverse in the elite six-nation tournament and were placed a couple of rungs lower than the home team.