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India knocked out of Asiad men's hockey
December 10, 2006 18:56 IST
India, once the invincible power in world hockey, forfeited the right to be called even continental forces when their men's team was knocked out of medal contention in the Asian Games on Sunday.
The team, without key centre-half Viren Rasquinha, who was controversially omitted just before its departure to Doha, drew their last Group B match against holders South Korea 1-1 and failed to make it to the semi-finals.
The eight-time Olympic champions, thus, plunged to a new low by failing to reach the last four of the Pan-Asian extravaganza for the first time since the sport's inclusion in 1958 at Tokyo.
Equally depressing is the fact that they have to play qualifying tournaments to book a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Had India reached the final at the Asiad, they would have gained an automatic spot in the Olympics.
After a goalless first half, Korea took the lead through a penalty-corner conversion by drag-flicker Jong Hyun Jang in the 41st minute, in what was India's live-or-wither encounter, before they drew level off a penalty corner goal by V Raghunath in the 57th minute.
But failure to pump in the match-winner forced India, who were shocked 2-3 in an earlier league match by China, out of medal contention.
India, who finished with seven points, will have to fight for the crumbs -- 5-8 positions -- as Korea and China sailed through to the last four from the group.
Doha Asian Games 2006: The Complete Coverage