Disappointing finish for India

ABJECT SURRENDER:A haggard looking Indian team, with captain Rajpal Singh leading, leaves the playing arena after losing to Argentina.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

S. Thyagarajan

Aggressive Argentina floors the host with a convincing win

New Delhi: There was precious little to portray anything in eloquent terms as India suffered a disappointing reverse to settle for the eighth place in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Friday.

In a space of two minutes in the second half, Argentina floored the opponent to emerge winner by a 4-2 margin to secure the seventh place.

What contributed to the end game was the failure to make good of the moves that were well conceived by the consistent mid-field. Bharat Chikkara on the left and Sardara Singh from the middle put across a stream of passes.

Rajpal Singh with Vikram Pillay and Halappa as able allies managed to sneak in a few times as did Chandi and Shivendra Singh. But these raids were not sharp enough to confuse the Argentine defenders, Padro Ibarra and Alajendro.

Argentina's victory came largely on account of the pace the players generated thanks to the loping runs by Mario Almada and Lucas Vila and by the display of opportunism. The lead surfaced midway through when goal-keeper Adrian padded a long ball. Innocente lurking in the area pounced on the rebound.

Two penalty corners brought India no reward as the shots by Sandeep Singh were met without a fuss by goal-keeper Juan Tomas. Sandeep, however, converted a penalty stroke awarded by the Korean umpire Kin Hong Lee. It was disputed by the Argentine players but approved by the video umpire for a stick check by Mathias Vila on Vikram Pillay.

This moment of delight was destroyed in the next two minutes by the electrifying moves of Argentina. A thundering penalty corner drive by Lucas Vila beat Adrian all ends up as did the finishing touches by Lucas Vila off a move from Almada in the next minute. The fourth did not take long as Facudo Callioni made capital of a defender's error.

Down and out all that the Indians could do was to keep up the pressure which paid off when Shivendra slotted a rebound from a reverse shot taken by Rajpal Singh at the goal-keeper. Later, a Shivendra-Vikram effort ended with the latter's shot hitting the cross piece.

Clearly disappointed a small section of the spectators targeted coach, Jose Brasa, shouting slogans against him.

It needs be reminded that India has moved up three spots in the ratings since 2006 when it finished 11th.

Two goals by Pol Amat, both in the first half, gave Spain the fifth spot against Korea in the last match of the day.

The results:

9-10: New Zealand 9 (Ignlis Hugo, Andrew Hayward 3-hat-trick); (TB: Dean Couzins, Andrew Hayward, Shea McCleese, Nicolas Wilson: SD: Dean Couzins) beat South Africa 8 (Justine Reid Ross, Norris Lloyd, Taine Paton, Tomas Hammond; TB: Lloyd Madson, Wade Paton, Julian Hykes, Gareth Carr). HT: 0-1. 7-8: Argentina 4 (Innocente Argento, Lucas Vila 2, Facudo Callioni) beat India 2 (Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh) HT 1-0. 5-6: Spain (Pol Amat 2) 2 bt Korea 0. HT 2-0 .

Saturday's matches: 3-4: Netherlands v England (3.35 p.m.). Final: Australia v Germany (6.05 p.m.) .