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India finish a disappointing fourth
July 10, 2005 18:40 IST
Last Updated: July 10, 2005 20:00 IST
Defending champions India missed out on the bronze medal after going down 5-6 via tie-breaker to Spain in the Rabobank Junior World Cup hockey tournament in Rotterdam on Sunday.
India, who led 1-0 at the break on a 9th minute penalty corner goal by Hari Prasad, failed to build on the advantage as Spain equalised in the 38th minute through a Jorge Rodriguez penalty corner conversion.
In the tie-breaker that followed the barren extra-time, Spanish goalkeeper Andreu Mollet dived low to his left to stop Vivek Gupta's attempt with the first stroke and that turned the tide against India.
Spain converted all their five strokes through Miguel Delas, Jorge Rodriguez, David Alegre, Andreu Enrich and Pepe Borrell in that order. For India, Dhananjay Mahadik, Sandeep Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Ajmer Singh came good.
The Indian camp thought they were done in by an umpiring blunder in the 65th minute when a goal by V Raja, who deflected a Sandeep Singh free-hit, was disallowed. Umpire Nathan Stagno from Gibraltar first awarded a goal to India. An official announcement was also made to this effect.
However, the Spanish players surrounded Stagno and disputed the decision. Stagno consulted his colleague Erik Klein-Nagelvoort (Holland) and then reversed his decision to award a 16-yard hit to Spain.
Stagno ruled that an Indian player had lifted the ball dangerously when in fact it appeared that the ball was first deflected by a Spanish stick and Raja swatted it home.
India's coach Harendra Singh said after the game: "I do not agree with the decision. Even the other umpire (Erik) had made a note of Raja's shirt number. It was only after the Spanish players protested that Stagno consulted Erik and reversed the decision. It is high time that the FIH introduced a third umpire like in cricket to rule on close decisions."
That apart, the game was evenly balanced right through with the Indians holding a slight advantage in terms of ball possession. But they were allowed little room due to tight marking and it was the individual skill of the players that saw India make several dangerous inroads.
Spain, on the other hand, typically depended on counter attacks with a series of one-touch passes to rotate the ball and also move it upfield. But like India, the Spaniards too did not get a close look at the goal.
Harendra Singh singled out Raja for his outstanding effort today. "I thought Raja and also midfielder Nithin Kumar had a good game. It was just that we were not solid in our build-up and that led to quite a few turnovers," he said.
"My apologies to all my countrymen for the disappointing end to our World Cup campaign. We did our best, but it was not enough."
Earlier, the Netherlands beat Germany 8-7 in sudden-death period to finish fifth in the overall standings. The teams were tied 3-3 at the end of the regulation period and converted three strokes apiece in the tie-breaker. The Dutch, however, clinched the issue in the sudden-death period.
Pakistan finally came into their own to drub Korea 6-1, a performance that only reflected the team's potential, but not in their overall showing in the World Cup. Pakistan ended up in the seventh position, followed by Korea.