Pathetic India finish 8th

India’s campaign in the World Cup hockey ended on a bitter note when they were routed 2-4 by Argentina at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, here on Friday. The hosts thus finished eighth in the 12-nation competition.

Trailing by a goal at the half time, the hosts equalised through a penalty stroke conversion by Sandeep Singh in the 42nd minute only to find themselves at the receiving end when the visitors took advantage of a loosely knit Indian defence to strike three quick goals in five minutes.

To make the matter worse, there were unpleasant scenes after the match when a couple of Indian players got involved in heated exchanges with a section of the crowd, who hurled abuses at the home team for their poor performance.

Senior player Prabhjot Singh, who had an immensely forgettable outing, was seen gesticulating to the crowd before he was calmed down by others. Skipper Rajpal Singh also got into arguments with a few spectators.

A dejected Rajpal later said: “The defence really let us down. I didn’t find any improvement in our performance. Last World Cup also we won only one match. Our defence was weak and we conceded poor goals.

“In the last World Cup, we finished 11 th and this time we have taken the eighth spot. That’s the only satisfaction we have,” a frustrated Rajpal added.

The defence surely made all the difference. The Argentine defenders were good in positional play and quick to clear the ball while their Indian counterparts — Sandeep Singh and Dhananjay Mahadik — were simply pathetic.

Between the 43rd and the 47th minute, Argentina scored three goals through Martin Lucas Vila (2) and Facundo Calloni to break India’s backbone.

India did rally back through a goal from Shivendra Singh and then made some courageous efforts upfront but that could hardly influence the result of the match.

Earlier, Tomas Innocento Argento put Argentina in the lead in the 28th minute when he turned in a long ball into the circle from Oscar Fernando Zylberberg.

Chief coach Jose Brasa, who backed his wards, hinted he was looking for replacements for players like Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur. “Both Prabhjot and Deepak are good players but sadly they didn’t perform as per the expectations. We have to see if there are other players who can take their position,” said Brasa.

Brasa said it was not a good idea to field youngsters in a tournament like World Cup.

“We tried out some junior players before the World Cup but found they were no better than the veterans. We decided to field the veterans as junior players would have found difficult to handle the pressure of playing in the World Cup”

In other classification matches, Spain defeated South Korea 2-0 to take the fifth spot, while New Zealand beat South Africa 5-4 in sudden death after the extra time ended in a 4-4 stalemate. The Kiwis finished ninth.

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