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October 22, 2001

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Too good to be true, says Rajinder

Our Correspondent

India coach Rajinder Singh heaped encomiums on his junior World Cup-winning team, saying their performance was too good to be true.

India thrashed Argentina 6-1 in the final of the seventh edition of the 16-team tournament, in Hobart, Australia, on Sunday to emerge supreme.

"I knew we could win, but I was not expecting this score. The boys did a wonderful job," he said.

After the 2-2 draw against the South Americans in the second round of the tournament, Rajinder and his team had expected another tough match on Sunday. But, led by a superb performance by their forwards, the Indians overwhelmed Argentina to make it a one-sided contest.

Deepak Thakur ''This was a great performance. We did not let go off the pressure at any moment of the game and thus emerged winners. In some matches my boys played in patches but in the final they were excellent. We combined in the half line and the forward line and the boys proved India could do it," said an ecstatic Rajinder.

He hastened to add, ''I am glad that I have finally achieved as a coach what I couldn't do as a player for India... that is win the World Cup.''

Rajinder was India's full back at the 1982 senior World Cup in Bombay and ended up as the top scorer of the tournament, but India went on to finish fifth in the tournament.

He felt many of the players of his winning team will be in the squad for the senior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, from February 25 to March 9, next year.

"I am proud of this bunch and I hope we can turn this victory into something bigger at the 2002 senior World Cup," he said.

Argentine coach Alex Verga conceeded "India were too good" on Sunday.

A bit disappointed after coming within grasp of what would have been his country's first men's hockey title, he was, however, proud of his team's showing in the tournament after a disastrous start which saw them lose 1-2 to Germany.

"The weather was perfect, but we were dark," said Verga.

Asked whether he expected the second placing, he said, "I would have sold my soul for it; no, I would have given my soul away!

Sydney Olympian Deepak Thakur, who the top scorer of the tournament with ten goals, was elated with his and the team's showing.

"The team wanted a win very badly. We owed it to the nation. Thanks to the coach, who has been absolutely great, we have been able to win the World Cup. It's really unbelievable," he said.

Complete Coverage: 7th Junior Men's World Cup 2001


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