"There is lot of time to go for the World Cup and we are showing improvement. If we keep the pace we have a fair chance to win the World Cup. We are moving forward step by step" - Indian coach, Harendra Singh
Feb 9

Written by: Sundeep Misra
Monday, February 09, 2009 

Holland 2 India 1

If winning penalty corners were the basis for winning a final, India would have walked away with the Punjab Gold Cup. But our single biggest weakness over the years came back to haunt the host side who couldn’t convert five penalty corners, crucially four in the second half when the scores were tied 1-1. Holland needed that extra inch of space in the Indian striking circle and they got it in the second half when Hetrzberger shot beautifully from a lovely penalty corner variation to take the final 2-1.

For most of the match, India and Holland had an equal number of chances with the Indians really moving well in the second half; missing penalty corners, sharp deflections and some eye-to-eye confrontations with the Dutch goalkeeper.

Holland dominated the initial exchanges; their midfield solid and reliable. India had a slow start with the midfield coming into their own in the 20th minute. Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, Arjun Hallapa did their best and it was Pillay who held sway over the exchanges playing the crucial pivot’s role. Benefitting were Shivender and Prabhjot Singh.

The Dutch had some wonderful moves but the Indian defence fell back strongly to ferret out the ball and save the situation. Baljit Singh was again the impenetrable wall saving goal bound shots and even charging out for the rebounds.
At the break, both the teams were tied goalless.

The break came in the 44th minute when Shivender and Prabhjot Singh cut through the Dutch defence off a counter-attack. Prabhjot raced through the middle and flicked it for Shivender who after going past a Dutch defender swerved to the left but was felled by a Dutch stick. The Korean umpire Kim Hong Lee didn’t hesitate to award a penalty stroke to India.

Indian captain Sandeep Singh’s low push to the right beat the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann as the 30,000 strong crowds roared their happiness over India taking the lead.

The Dutch equalizer came three minutes later when a free hit blazed into the Indian striking circle and took a deflection of Robert Kemperman’s stick. The German umpire first blew for a foul and then changed it to a goal when Kim Hong pointed it out that a deflection had occurred.

India had their chances when they earned three penalty corners in succession. But surprisingly knowing that Dutch goalkeeper Stockmann was reading Sandeep’s high flicks well, not a single penalty corner variation was done.

Holland used the variation with only three minutes left on the clock; Hertzberger getting the ball in the circle and the resultant hit zipping into the Indian goal past Baljit’s pads.

Two chances of equalizing were wasted when a penalty corner flick was delayed and then a Prabhjot deflection rose over the Dutch goalkeeper but fell inches over the cross-piece.

The massive turn-out, approximately 30,000, were disappointed but stood to a man to applaud the Dutch and then cheered the Indians too.
The Punjab Gold Cup has been a great success and with the Punjab Government saying that the tournament should invite the best eight teams in the world, there is no reason to think that, maybe, finally, India would get its own annual tournament.

The Indian team is now off to Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, they play two Tests and in New Zealand they would face off against the Kiwis in four Tests.
Holland’s Jeroen Hertzberger with six goals won the man-of-the-tournament.

Earlier, in the day, New Zealand beat Germany 3-2 to clinch the third place.




11 comment(s) so far...

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Over all it was a good tournament and a good exposure for Indian hockey players. It was the best present for Hockey fans in Chandigarh and surrounding areas. Thanks to the organizers of this tournament. We appreciate your love for hockey. I am still wondering why Ragunath wasn’t tried for PC after Sandeep failed couple of times? What formation (5, 3, 2), (4, 4, 2) or (4, 3, 3) does India play these days?

By Bhaji Dhillon on   Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

hard luck.....neverthless it was a gallant effort by the indian contingent.Their grit needs to be appplauded and this second place finish should guide them to an impressive show in the forthcoming tests in australia and the newzealand........hope indian hockey has revived and they do qualify in the 2012 olympics.....

By hardik on   Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

I have a question for Sundeep Sir, It will be better if we have Diwakar Ram also with Sandeep Singh on the field when we are taking penalty corners. The same thing happened in Azlan Shah tournament and the opposition was kept guessing who will hit the penalty corner. Congratulations to Punjab Government and public of chandigarh for revival of hockey and atleast providing fans opportunity to see hockey. I hope slowly few youngsters are inducted from the junior side so that we crack the right nucleus of the team before 2010 world cup and 2010 commonwealth games. We Hockey Fans will fill the stadium at Delhi and support our team.

By saxena on   Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

You do have a point when you say we should have two penalty corner convertors on the pitch. But at that moment against Holland, we did have Dilip Tirkey with his direct hits. But the point I am trying to make is that we need to work out variations. Even in the Challenger Tournament in Boom, India had 12 penalty corners against Argentina and not a single one was converted; Sandeep and Dilip were the ones on the pitch. But not a single variation was done also. Holland's second goal was off a variation. We might have failed with a variation but variation is a weapon that has stealth and surprise and teams do use them. You also have to understand that Sandeep and Diwakar are not the best guys on the pitch when it comes to defending. It's time that the team management looks at this area a little carefully. Penalty corners are one of the most important scoring areas and we need to get this going if we have to come into the top six of the world.

By Sundeep Misra on   Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Bhaji Dhillon,
Now days, India plays a 4-4-2 formation. But it keeps changing with the demands of the match. Anyway, in today's hockey, keeping five forwards upfront is a little risky as counter-attacks are very fast and most of the time do yeild goals or atleast earn penalty corners.
I do agree with you on the organisation...it was very well done. I was amazed with the turn out - 30,000 plus fans filling every nook and corner of the Sector-42 stadium. Let's hope the next edition of the Punjab Gold Cup is even better.

By Sundeep Misra on   Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Sundeep,thanks for your reports which I find accurate and highlight our failings.

In my opinion, our formation is too predictable and the top teams know exactly how we will play. Why do we insist on playing only 2 defenders? This is inviting pressure and it's no wonder we concede the highest number of PCs in most tournaments. This is before we factor in the slowness/clumsiness of most of our defenders!!

Unfortunately, all our coaches have blindly ignored our defensive frailties.Why not switch to 3 or 4 defenders if we are struggling to contain the opposition? Keeping the ball seems alien to Indian teams.

We don't need 5 forwards and we certainly don't need mindless aeriels and mad hits from the defenders. That is painful to watch.

I really hope that the ad-hoc committee appoints Brasa as head coach and not take 2nd place here as a sign of success and persist with Harendra.

By Ajeet Singh on   Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Win would have been nice, still India has played remarkable level of hockey in this tournament. Hats off to Pargat bhaji and his squad for their sound planning and magnificently execution of this hockey event. Resultant from this intuitive approach, world may see again the glory of India hockey.

By Parwinder Gill on   Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Ajeet Singh Sir,
I completely agree with you..
(We don't need 5 forwards and we certainly don't need mindless aeriels and mad hits from the defenders. That is painful to watch.)
I dont believe what I and U see can be missed by the Coaching staff....
I think its time we get our Junior boys(Baxla,Kullu) who to me are better defenders than Sandeep and Raghu...Or even Xalco is not a bad choice...

By Srikanth on   Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

While this discussion on field formation and penalty corners is very lively and I thank Sundeep for his hockey acumen; we are missing some very important aspects of Indian hockey. The Indian team neither has the physical bulk of the Europeans nor the speed of the Koreans or the Chinese. What we have in abundance is skill and verve. This equates to the Indians having to resort to unrelenting attack to avoid loss of territorial advantage. In my opinion, defense is an itegral part of the game, but, India's savior is being on a full attack mode throughout the 70 minutes, if possible. This is easier said than done. It means superlative physical fitness is required. Present hockey rules are designed for attack. Rolling substitution, removal of off-side and 18 member squads, all augment the attack mode. If India concentrates on physical fitness and employs the services of the best physical trainers, sport dieticians and physios in the market, we would be unbeatable. Intensive plyometrics is the order of the day. India should master all the variations of the 4.4.2 formation, have defenders with bulk and thinking goalkeepers.
I agree that our penalty corner abilities are below par and variations are required. This can be achieved by employing international experts. Go for a foreign coach!
Also, India needs to introduce in-door hockey or six-a-side games in a big way. This version of the game is really demanding and vastly improves speed and reflexes. This is a must-do to see India climb the rungs. I have played both versions of the game and I can say without a doubt that in-door hockey did more for my field hockey game than any other preparation or training. If we want see quick and big results, then Indian should play in-door or six-a-side hockey.
Lastly, the chatter and rhetoric after the Argentinian trip and the Punjab Gold Cup successes should be toned down. It is premature to make tall claims. Repeated success and consistent performance is needed before the 2010 world cup, the 2011 CWGs and the 2012 OGs. There should be a professional and business-like approach to the 2010 WC. India should not loose sight of the fact, that India has a tremdous advantage of home-soil support during the 2010 WC. We shoudl not squander this golden opportunity by illusions of grandeur and false promises. We should finally get our act together. This is the last gasp chance...or almost so. My motto: "Win a big one, revive Indian hockey". Cricket has taught us that India has unfathomable money for winners. It's about time our national sport gets its share of it.

By Kuldeep Singh on   Thursday, February 12, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Our boys played their hearts out and we did fairly well. but there were some glaring deficiencies for everyone to see. Lets aim to get the best possible team for the WC and in the meantime let Mr. Barsa plan for the next 4 years. Why not pick ten coaches and let them learn while Mr. Barsa is in India ? Also, Sandeep, please give us a rundown of the names of at least the best three players in each position who can step into the national team.

By Nikhilesh C. Roy on   Friday, February 13, 2009

Re: Holland take title; India squander chances

Kuldeep, I agree with the observations. But things change when there is a will and a long term vision. India is all about short-cuts. Sadly, it includes cricket too even though it makes millions. There is no way that sponsorships would decrease even if we are sixth or second in the world. TV time is massive for cricket.
Six-a-side should be made into a national level tournament and taken indoors. I think most cities and towns have indoor facilities and if the tournament is taken there, popularity of the sport would pick up. Also schools would find it easy to play six-a-side as you don't need a turf thus cutting down on costs massively.
I personally feel that the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup are the last of the tournaments where we have a chance to stage a come-back of sorts. Beyond that I don't see an Indian team anymore.
This bunch of players in the Indian team are a demoralised lot. Trainers would change their mindset when they see the results. But who will get in the trainers!!!! The Ad-Hoc committee is to busy trying to milk the Commonwealth Games fund. Hockey is not a priority for them.

By Sundeep Misra on   Thursday, February 12, 2009

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