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Argentina sink India deeper
September 16, 2006 18:55 IST
India's exasperating sequence of defeats continued as they again conceded late goals and went down 2-3 to Argentina in a 9 to12 positions classification match at the hockey World Cup in Monchengblach, Germany, on Saturday.
India now face the ignominy of finishing with the wooden spoon for the second time in the history of the tournament, as they meet South Africa, who lost to Japan 2-5 in an earlier match, in the play-off for 11-12 positions on Sunday.
Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran's boys, who had the game under control in the first half during which they went 1-0 up at the lemon break, failed miserably in the second half and surrendered meekly to their South Americans.
After gaining an early lead through a goal from Arjun Halappa in the fourth minute, who got a touch to Shivendra Singh's attempt, the Indians faded from the contest.
Matias Vila restored parity for Argentina in the 40th minute and Matias Parades put them ahead in the 51st minute, both the goals coming from penalty-corners.
And though Rajpal Singh put India back on level terms, deflecting the ball home following a cross from Arjun Halappa in the 55th minute, the South Americans clinched the issue with another penalty-corner goal from Vila in the 61st minute.
The only instance India finished at the bottom was in 1986 under Mohammed Shahid's captaincy.
As in the previous matches, India yet again yielded ground after dominating in the early stages.
"Some special players did not play to potential and it affected our performance today," said Bhaskaran after the match.
The age-old Indian habit of dribbling and solo play also contributed to not just slowing down the pace but also helped the Argentine defenders to regroup.
Bhaskaran said: "I cannot understand why these players with so much experience keep repeating the mistakes. They have to be more professional and rectify the mistakes that have been repeatedly pointed out to them."
Argentina were more persistent in the second-half and, with the Indians getting into defensive mode, sustained pressure that eventually told on the Indian defenders, leading to seven penalty-corners in all.
The Indians fielded a revamped team without leading forwards Gagan Ajit Singh and Tejbir Singh and skipper Dilip Tirkey not in the starting eleven.
The other specialist full-back Kanwalpreet Singh too did not make it to the eleven, with rookie Ramachandra Raghunath and Viren Rasquinha manning the two key positions at the back.
"Gagan and Tejbir are unwell and we thought we will rest both. Dilip had an upset stomach this morning and so did not start the game," Bhaskaran explained.