India bt Malaysia, finish fifth
14 Dec 2006
Doha: The Indian men's hockey team have atleast ended their dismal campaign at the Asian Games with a win.
India beat Malaysia 4-0 to finish fifth at the Games.
Raghunath converted a penalty corner in the 13th minute to give India their first goal.
The second goal came through Rajpal Singh minutes before half time.
Raghunath got his second goal through another penalty corner to give India a 3-0 lead, and in the 64th minute Gurbaj Singh joined the action to give India the fourth goal.
Courtesy : ibnlive.com
Indian Women Clinch Bronze
14 Dec 2006
India’s women gained the consolation of a bronze medal in the hockey competition after a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Korea.
Mamta Kharb fired home the only goal form a penalty corner after 16 minutes to give India their only medal in hockey after their men missed out on a semifinal place for the first time Asian Games history.
Korea had finished third ahead of India in the qualifying group phase but although they pressed for an equaliser in the second half they could not break through India's resilient defence.
The team thought victory secures India’s place in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Captain Jyoti Sunita Kullu said, “We wanted to go all out on this one and we had a penalty corner success.
“For this match our team had sworn to get the bronze because then we would qualify for the Olympics. It’s a great thing for women’s hockey in India.”
But sadly for the Indians that is not the case. According to the International Hockey Federation, '“For India, there will be no qualification for the 2008 Olympic Games at this stage as only the two finalists will earn a ticket for the Olympic hockey tournament in Beijing. The Indian team will probably have another chance early 2008 during one of the three Olympic Qualifiers.'
Malaysia sealed fifth place in their first Asian Games appearance in 20 years with a 5-0 victory against Chinese Taipei.
Siti Rahmah Othman scored twice in the first half and other goals from Intan Nurairah Khushaini and Chitra Devi Arumugam put Malaysia four goals up at half-time. Nadia Abdul Rahman added the fifth from a penalty corner after 57 minutes.
Courtesy : dohaasiangames.org
China Stun Pakistan, Enter Final
December 12, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Lu Fenghui’s golden goal enabled unfancied China to continue with their giant killing act by scalping yet another sub-continental hockey power Pakistan 2-1 to storm into the finals of the Men’s Hockey competition of the Asian Games here on Tuesday.
China who had shocked India 3-2 and accounted for Pakistan in the semi finals have now announced that they are ready for the big stage.
The Chinese taught the former champions a lesson or two in physical fitness, speed, and stamina and virtually repeated the form which they had displayed against the Indians.
Pakistan got ten penalty corners but failed to convert any while China got two and made use of both of them. Against India also China got three chances which they converted while their rivals fiddled away their opportunities.
The Chinese thus handed an equal treatment to two sub-continent teams knocking them out of the direct qualification for the Olympics which they will be hosting.
Both the team were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time and the Chinese sealed the fate of Pakistan when Fenghui Lu converted a penalty corner in extra time triggering off scenes of
wild celebrations on the Chinese bench.
The Pakistanis who were expected to easily make it to the final, shot into the lead in the 20th minute of the contest when Captain Rehan Butt produced a gem of a field goal, outwitting the
Chinese defenders with deft stick work.
The Chinese found the equaliser just at the stroke of the hooter when Yu Yang converted a penalty corner much to the delight of his teamates.
Another penalty corner conversion nine minutes into extra time left the Pakistanis in a daze. The Pakistani players argued with the umpires disputing the decision and took a long time to come
off the field.
Frustrated India Crush CT
December 12, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Drag flicker V.Raghunath fired five goals as despondent India pumped in all their pent up frustrations on Chinese Taipei 12-1 in a classification match of the Men's hockey competition in the Asian Games here on Tuesday.
For the Indians who led 3-1 at half time, apart from Raghunath the other scorers were Rajpal Singh, Shivendra Singh (two each), Tushar Khandekar, Tejbir Singh and Adam Sinclair (one each). For the losers Fan Kuo Heng reduced the margin. Earlier, Malaysia beat Bangaldesh 6-1 and now the Busan bronze medalists will face the former champions India for the fifth place on Thursday.
India playing in the classification match of the tournament for the first time in the history of the Games made a sluggish start and it took them 20 minutes to open their account.
The Indians huffed and puffed in the first 35 minutes as they found it hard to convert penalty corners with either Vinay unable to stop the ball properly or Dilip Tirkey persisting with his direct cracks, failed to beat the goal keeper.
It was only in the 20th minute when Tirkey allowed Raghunath to take the drag flick that India opened the score with the Bangalore based youngster sending the ball home (1-0).
Seven minutes later, Raghunath again converted a penalty corner to make it 2-0 but the Indians were jolted when against the run of the play Chinese Taipei reduced the margin through Fan Kuo Heng who took advantage of a lax defence to send the ball into goal in the 30th minute to make it 1-2.
The rattled Indians retaliated and just on the breather managed to fire their third goal this time, Shivendra Singh scoring of a penalty corner (3-1).
However, the second session saw India going flat on the offensive and struck in the fourth minute with Tejbir Singh making no mistake as he intercepted a cross and sent the ball into the goal (4-1).
But after that there was a ten minute slump with India unable to score but Shivendra ended that lull as he scored his second and the team's fifth goal and after that the Indians just bombarded the rival defence.
The continuing attacks led to the collapse of Chinese Taipei's citadel and they conceded seven goals in a space of 15 minutes. V Raghunath converted two more penalty corners in as many minutes in the 54th and 55th minute to take his goal tally to four and the team's to seven and then Rajpal converted a stroke which was awarded after a goal mouth melee following a penalty corner (8-1).
Four more goals came with Rajpal (63rd), Raghunath (66th), Adam Sinclair (67th) and Tushar Khandekar (69th) scoring to complete the tally.
India took time to realise that they were playing for the classification match and pulled up their socks only in the second session to emerge authentic winners.
However, even in this match India muffed chances and the forwards found it hard to get past the crowded defence initially as they tried to go for solo efforts but after realising the futility of their
attempts they reverted back and started playing collectively and the result was there for all to see.
Women Play Korea For Bronze
December 11, 2006
A fighting Indian women's hockey team on Monday suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat in their last round robin league encounter against South Korea ahead of the bronze medal clash between the two countries at the Asian Games in Doha.
The Indians, who were placed in the third position on the table, slipped to the fourth spot after completing their league engagements and will now again lock horns again with third-placed Korea in a bronze medal play-off on Wednesday.
Japan finished at the top of the points table with 16 points from six matches while China finished second with 15 points. The two teams will now clash for the gold medal.
India completed their league engaments with nine points, winning three matches and losing as many.
The Koreans rode a brilliant hattrick by Park Young Soon (20th, 61st, 66th) to script the morale boosting win in a rehersal of the bronze medal clash. They dominated the proceedings against the Indians who lacked the finishing touches.
The Indian eves, however, did not surrender meekly scoring twice through Surinder Kaur (31st) and Saba Anjum (52nd).
The Koreans fired the first salvo in the 20th minute when Park converted a penalty corner but the Indians neutralised the lead 11 minutes later when Surinder slammed in a lovely field goal.
With both teams tied 1-1, the second half saw a fierce battle for control of the game before the Indians took the lead in the 52nd minute with Saba Anjum scoring a field goal.
But the euphoria was shortlived as Park again converted a peanlty corner nine minutes later and sealed India's fate by scoring through a penalty stroke four minutes before the hooter.
"The game today was just a trial as we gave some young players and our reserve goal-keeper a run. They played very well and some of them played as though they are giving their life", Indian coach M K Kaushik said.
"I think it was a creditable performance against Korea considering that we did not play our full side", he said.
Draw Knocks Out India
December 10, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Indian Hockey’s epithet was written at the Al-Rayyan stadium when they were knocked out of the medal contention for the first time in the history of the sports in the Asian Games here on Sunday.
Having finished 11th at the World Cup in Germany, Indian hockey plunged into grief when they got knocked out of the competition after giving their best display of the tournament holding defending champions Korea 1-1 in a must win last league match to end up third in their pool with seven points.
India’s hopes of qualifying for the Beijing Olympiad from the Asian Games were shattered as they muffed a couple of early chances and then the Koreans struck through Jang Jong Hyun when he converted a penalty corner with his powerful drag flick in the 57th minute. The two time winners fought back superbly and equalised through Raguhnath in the 62nd minute when he converted the third penalty corner but that was all that they could do.
Korea, world ranked sixth, who topped the pool with ten points and China with nine made it to the semifinal from Pool B.
India kept their best for the last but it was a case of too little and too late and with the team making it to the last four of the Asian Games the future of hockey in the country has itself become uncertain.
India played an attacking game while their rivals looked relaxed having already assured themselves a place in the semis.
India had too many firsts in this tournament for their comfort. For the first time they lost to China and this afternoon they achieved another dubious distinction of losing a podium place for the first time in the history of the Games.
India’s best was of no avail. They played well but they could not achieve the target which they were set to win the match.
”It was a good game, the team played their best but it was unlucky for us,”said a visibly upset Indian coach Vasudevan Baskaran. “We had our chances to score in the last two minutes but missed but we are not complaining about this game.”
He was candid enough to admit that Indians were undone by the defeat against China on December 5. “It is the game against China that disappointed us,” a down cast Bhaskaran added.
“We played a perfect game against Korea. It is a shame we could not play like this against China. That was the game that affected us and our place in the tournament. The match against China was pathetic and I do not want to say anymore about it.”
The 1980 Olympic gold medal winning team captain Bhaskaran exuded confidence about the future of the Indian hockey saying, “In the future we need to develop two or three players like V.Ragunath for penalty corners and others for defence and playing forward. We have to develop our game in both attack and defence. We should be more regulative in the line and should be more penetrating. We have to try our best and go through the qualifiers for the Olympics.”
For once, Indian mid fielders displayed superb cohesion while forwards kept prodding the rival citadel.
The losers missed a golden chance to score in the very first minute of the game when Shivendra Singh set Tushar Khandekar who had only the goal keeper at his mercy but he shot wide.
The Korean attacks were more penetrative and looked threatening but the Indian defence – Dilip Tirkey, Raghunath and Harpal - displayed good understanding to frustrate the attacks.
The Indians got tense as time ticked away. They needed the victory while the Koreans seemed oblivious of the results and in the process the former powerhouse in the sport started committing mistakes.
Korea forced two penalty corners in the first half but one was saved by goal keeper Adrian D’souza and then Ragunath made a fine goal line save off the second penalty corner.
Two minutes before the half time, Korean striker Seo Jong Ho pushed the ball towards the open goal as D’souza had charged out but Vinaya made a stunning goal line save.
The first half failed to produce any goal and the second session began on a very brisk note as the Koreans forced two quick penalty corners in the 5th and 6th minute as Jang Jong Hyun converted to take his individual goal tally in this tournament to 13 and give his side a 1-0 lead.
After taking the lead Korea became a bit defensive and the Indians retaliated with mid fielders and forwards exchanging their positions rapidly with coordination and understanding.
Harpal Singh moved upfront assuming the role of a withdrawn forward. The Indians forced two penalty corners. Both times Dilip Tirkey’s attempt to take a direct shot was foiled by the Koreans.
The Indians, however, kept the pressure on and were rewarded with another penalty corner and this time Raghunath with a powerful drag flick sent the ball home for an equaliser (1-1).
Buoyed by this goal, the Indians mounted more pressure and virtually laid siege around the Korean citadel but all the attempts by Vinaya, Arjun Hallapa, Shivendra and Rajpal failed to breach the target.
The final hooter was the final nail in the coffin of Indian Hockey, which has been in coma for a couple of years but finally got buried in the Arabian sands.
Commenting on the match , Korean striker You Hyo Sik said, “India is a strong and famous team and we expected more from them. If we had not prepared so well for the match it may have been a different result.”
”I am not satisfied with the result. We made some mistakes during the game and also my ankle got injured so we need to improve this and play the next match better.”
India Pound Oman 9-0
December 8, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Desperate India went ballistic in the second half and pounded Oman 9-0 to keep their hopes alive for the semifinal berth in the men’s hockey competition of the Asian Games here on Friday evening.
For India who led 3-0 at half time, the goal scorers were Shivendra Singh(3) Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandekar (two each), Arjun Halappa and Dilip Tirkey (one each).
India play South Korea in their last do or die match. The former champions will have to win that encounter as even a draw will not help.
Korea on Friday morning beat China 3-0 and now have nine points from three matches with one to go. China has finished their league assignment with nine points and India have six points but have a better goal average of plus 14 as compared to plus five of China.
India had to win this match by a big margin and they made their group of supporters at the stadium miss a beat when they led only 3-0 at half time. However, in the the second session India was a totally different team and they went on the attack as if their lives were dependent on the out come and it paid dividends.
After this match India now have a goal difference of 14 (having scored 17 and conceded 3) while China with their assignment over have 3 plus goal difference in their favoure (10 scored seven conceded).
India earned 11 penalty corners and converted five in a contest which became totally one sided in the second half.
The Indians once again looked sluggish in the first session and that created panic on the bench. The first goal came in the 11th minute through Shivendra Singh who scored off a penalty corner and the second came in the 28th minute when Hari Prasad found the target and third a minute before the breather through Dilip tirkey who converted a penalty corner.
A disturbed Indian management then inducted rookie Gurbaz into the attack replacing Ignace Tirkey and the move paid off as their was a sudden spark in the attack.
Gurbaz was persisted through out the second half while Ajmer Singh was used in bit and pieces as the Indians came alive.
Rajpal crafted two stunning moves which led to two goals and Arjun Halappa then activated the midfield along with Vinay and Gurbaz.
Shivendra Singh displayed his wares and Tejbir-Tushar combined well to see India through with a convincing margin and suddenly the former champions were back in contention.
Six goals were pumped in a space of 22 minutes-with Shivendra Singh making it 4-0 in the 40th minute.
Four Minutes later Tushar struck a penalty corner (5-0) and three minutes later Hari Prasad made it half a dozen for his side.
Three more came in the space of seven minutes with Tushar (55th) taking the tally to 7-0, Shivindera then scored his third and team’s eighth goal (60th ) off a penalty corner and Arjun halappa completed the tally eight minutes before the final whistle.
"It was a good show in the second session," Coach Baskaran said.
India Women Thrash HK
December 8, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Striker Surinder Kaur struck a purple patch blasting four goals as India whipped lowly Hong Kong 7-0 to keep their hopes alive for a podium finish in the Women's hockey competition in the Asian Games here on Friday.
Apart from Surinder’s four goals (21st, 35th, 54th and 68th), skipper Sunita Kullu chipped in two (27th and 54th) and Jasjeet Kaur contributed one(50th).
India who led 3-0 at half time should have finished with a much higher victory margin but once again the forwards failed to captalise on the chances that came their way.
This was India’s third win in four matches and they still have two tough ties ahead against Japan and Korea and if they manage to beat any one of them they are sure to make it to the final. But for that they will have to sharpen and fine tune their attack and finish.
Against Hong Kong, India got 11 penalty corners but could convert only three and that too through indirect attempts. They made a whopping 44 attempts at the rival goal but lack of finish affected their victory margin.
India started without skipper Jyoti Kullu who is not fully fit after suffering a head on collision in an earlier match but she was forced to play midway through the first half as other forwards were making a mess of the things.
Despite the overwhelming domination it took India 21 long minutes to break the dead lock and score the first goal when Surinder Kaur converted a stroke (1-0).
Six minutes later the Indian skipper made her presence felt when she gave her side the lead scoring off a penalty corner (2-0). And just on the stroke of half time Surinder struck again scoring off a penalty corner(3-0).
The Indian domination continued in the second session with the ball mostly in the 25 yard area of Hong Kong but goalkeeper Lee Mei Chai and defender Barbara Helen Mountain frustrated the rivals with some superb defence.
The Hong Kong attack was too feeble and they hardly made any move towards the rival defence. The Indian goalkeeper Dipika Murthy was not tested even once.
Three quick goals in a span of seven minutes saw India taking a 6-0 lead with Jyoti Kullu and Jasjeet scoring field goals in the 47th and 50th minutes and Surinder Kaur striking off a penalty corner in the 54th.
After putting India in a commanding position, Jyoti left the field and two minutes before the full time, Surinder Kaur struck again this time scoring a beautiful goal (7-0) to complete the tally.
Despite the big victory margin the Indian performance left a lot to be desired and coach M.K.Kaushik was fully aware of it “We will have to improve upon our finishing and should not miss so many chances”.
The coach admitted that penalty corner conversion remains a bit of problem. "We need to convert more and against Japan and Korea we just can’t afford to miss."
Three wins out of four is very good going. “But we have a tough task ahead” Kaushik said and added “The girls will have to give their best in the next two matches because they know we are very close to our target and I have told them that they have in them the quality and capability to emerge winners, it is just a question of being focused and keeping your nerves,”he added.
Ind Women Beat Malaysia
December 6, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
India gave another disturbing performance and made a heavy weather of their 4-2 win over Malaysia in the round robin league of the women's hockey competition here at the Asian Games on Tuesday.
This was India’s second win in three matches having earlier won against Chinese Taipei before losing to defending champions China.
India was not at it's best as they missed chances galore and those included virtual sitters.
For the winners who led 3-1 at half time, the goal getters were Asunta Lakra(3rd), Binita Topono(24th), Saba Anjum(29th) and Mamta Kharab (68th). For the losers Kannagi Arumugam(9th)and Nadia Rehman (54th) were the scorers.
The Indians huffed and puffed before scoring as their forward line was totally non-functional. It was a listless display which must have upset coach M.K.Kaushik.
The forwards failed to coordinate well. In fact, there was hardly any imaginative move but still the winners earned eight penalty corners and converted two. They also conceded seven penalty corners to the rivals who made use of two.
The Indians were in the lead in the third minute when Asunmta Lakra scored off a penalty corner but the Malaysians replied strongly to draw parity six minutes later through Kannagi who converted a penalty corner.(1-1).
The Indians had to wait for another 15 minutes to take the lead and in between they missed chances galore. India forced another penalty corner in the 24th minute and this time Binita Topono made no mistake in hitting the target (2-1). Five minutes later the lead went up 3-1 when Saba Anjum, who had an outstanding match struck.
In the second session, Malaysia reduced the gap when they earned another penalty corner and Nadia Rehman managed to sweep the ball into the cage (2-3).
However two minutes before the final whistle Mamta Kharab made amends of her below par display by scoring the 4th goal for the side.
The Indian team was totally disjointed with Mamta Kharab, Captain Jyoti Kullu and Surinder Kaur being totally off colour. They created more problems for their side than helping it.
The bulk of attacks was left to Saba Anjum, who kept changing flanks but did not get much support from her teammates. The Indians froze at time of scoring and some developed butter fingers in front of the rival goalmouth.
The Malaysian captain Norfaraha was outstanding in deep defence and foiled many a attack of the rival side.
In the other matches China defeated Korea 1-0 while Hong Kong played a 0-0 draw with Chinese Taipei.
Women Lose to China Also
December 5, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Defending champion China seized the chances that came their way to overpower error prone India 3-1 in a crucial Women's hockey competition encounter at the Asian Games here on Tuesday.
China, ranked fifth in the World had beaten 13th ranked India, 1-0 in the World Cup held at Madrid in September. The winners had finished 10th while India were placed 11th.
For China who led 1-0 at half time the goal scorers were Fu Baorong (2) and Ren Ye (one) while for India Surinder Kaur reduced the margin.
The defeat has put a question mark about India’s medal prospects. They will have to play much better and consistent hockey against Japan and Korea to hope for a podium finish.
"In the first session we conceded too much space to the rivals” admitted coach M.K.Kaushik “We improved a lot in the second session, but that shows that we were not consistent.”
“The girls will have to give an improved performance to stay on the course for a podium finish,” he added.
The Chinese played a very attacking game in the first session and Indians in comparison looked a lethargic lot. There movements and attacks hardly posed any threat to the defending champions.
The Indians were lucky to have conceded only one goal in the first session in which they were overrun by the Chinese and for this they have to thank their goalkeeper Dipika Murthy who brought off some stunning saves.
The Chinese surged ahead in the 18th minute when RenYe took advantage of the confusion in the rival defence to sent the ball into goal(1-0). Taking the lead they piled up more pressure on the Indian defence but just could not beat Dipika.
The defence of both the teams was solid and only three penalty corners were conceded in the whole game. Two were awarded to India and one to China but all were muffed.
The Indians committed far too many errors and struggled a lot in the first 35 minutes but China despite the overwhelming domination could not increase the lead.
The second half was a pleasant surprise for the Indian supporters as their side went full blast against their rivals in a bid to equalise. And this time it was the Chinese goalkeeper Nie Yali’s turn to prove a stumbling block for the Indians.
Chinese captain and defender Ma Yibo gave a rock solid display and frustrated the repeated Indian attacks spearheaded by skipper Jyoti Kullu, Saba Anjum and Surinder Kaur.
China sealed the match in their favour with two quick goals following a tear away counter attack. They struck through Fu Baorong in the 49th minute and seven minutes later got a second goal to make it 3-0.
India hit back with Surinder Kaur sending the ball home in the 57th minute to reduce the gap (1-3) but after that the Chinese locked their defence and the Indians found it hard to get past them.
The losers lacked finish and the spark was missing in their attacks which hardly looked incisive or threatening.
China Shock India
December 5, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Disaster struck a disjointed India as they crashed to a humiliating 2-3 defeat to lowly China in a Pool B league match here at the Asian Games on Tuesday.
It was a disaster in waiting. The Indians earned eight penalty corners but converted only one while the Chinese scored off the only one they earned that eventually turned out to be the match-winner.
India paid the price for their incoherent and inconsistent play. The game plan was missing and there was no urgency. Even a clear cut strategy was missing. Actually the Indian team looked as if they had just trooped in to try their luck against an unfancied opponent. Unfortunately, China was well prepared.
With a loose and uncoordinated half line, forwards who looked tired and lethargic, India should consider themselves lucky that they lost by only a goal.
The defeat leaves a big question mark on the future of Indian Hockey as it may not even qualify for the Olympics. The first two teams here will make it to the Beijing Olympics and others will have to go through the qualification round.
It was a red letter day for China as they scored their first ever win over India in the men’s hockey competition. And the credit should go to their coach Kim Sang Ryul. Kim is the former South Korean coach who took South Korea to the Sydney Olympics Silver medal.
For the Chinese who led 2-1 at half time the goal scorers were Hu Liang (13th), Liu Xiantang (20th) and Song Yi (59th). Rajpal Singh (35th) and V.Raghunath ( 61st) scored for the losers.
Chinese coach Ryul knew India’s weakness and he fully exploited them .The winners played a defensive game and did not allow their rivals any space.
It was sad to see the Indian mid field functioning. They just had no clue of what was happening and less said the better about the forwards with Tushar Khandekar completely out of form.
Tejbir was a passenger and Hari Prasad and Shivendra Singh will like to forget this nightmare of a match as soon as possible.
The Chinese took the lead in the 13th minute through Hu Liang who surprised the Indian defenders as he made full use of the defensive lapse to shoot home the first goal and seven minutes later Liu Xiantang made it 2-0. China’s first goal was a reverse shot and VS Vinay instead of putting his stick in the line of the shot or even trying to cover up with his body walked out of the way leaving the Indian goalkeeper completely exposed.
India tried hard for the equaliser but the crowded Chinese defence gave no chance. It was only a minute before the breather that Raj Pal Singh struck India’s first goal. But the superbly physically fit Chinese kept looking for swift counter attacks and turnarounds and they forced their only penalty corner in the 59th minute as skipper Song Yi with a powerful drag flick scored to make it 3-1. It was clear that the Indians will not be able to equalise as the Chinese fell back to defend the lead.
The former champions forced another penalty corner in the 61st minute and this time V.Raghunath flicked the ball home (2-3). Knowing that they needed to last out the remaining nine minutes, China went on the defensive as the Indians tried in vain.
Malaysia Hold Pak
December 4, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
A dying minute goal by Muhammad Zubair helped Pakistan to manage a 1-1 face saving draw against Busan Asiad bronze medallist Malaysia in their opening match of the Asian Games hockey competition here late on Monday night.
Before the equaliser came a minute before the final whistle it looked like Pakistan was going to have to meet the same fate which met them in Busan where Malaysia had knocked them out in a third place match.
Both sides did everything except scoring in the first half and Pakistan were a dominating force throughout the play but could not get a goal.
Skipper Rehan Butt and striker Shakeel Abbasi missed golden sitters in both halves.
Malaysia jolted Pakistan by converting their 52nd minute penalty corner through captain Shanmuganathan while the Green Shirts missed two penalty corners that came their way.
Pakistan desperately launched a goal hunt quest in the last ten minutes and most of the attacks were blocked by a solid Malaysian defence or their keeper Jamaluddin adding to the frustration of the Pakistanis who were finding no way out.
It was Imran Khan who sent a sizzling cross to Zubair whose first touch deflection sailed into the net to the relief of the team members in the 69th minute.
"It was a very close match and thank God we managed to draw it as we were not in a position to suffer a defeat“,said team captain, Rehan Butt.
His logic was that the team was under pressure as it had lost to the same side four years ago in the bronze medal run and that is "why it could not perform up to its full potential".
"We hope to get our touch and confidence back in the coming matches as this result will serve as a lesson for us and now we have to play at our best to keep our chances alive in the tournament",he said.
Coach Shahnaz Sheikh said forwards missed chances but he was relieved that his team scored in the closing session. "A draw is better than losing a match",he said adding "we have no choice but to show better results in the coming matches",he added.
Dilip Fires, India Wins
December 6, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Skipper Dilip Tirkey slammed three goals as India handed a 6-0 drubbing to Bangladesh in their inaugural pool B hockey league match at the 15th Asian Games here on Monday.
For India who led 4-0 at half time, Tirkey struck in the 3rd, 24th and 33rd minute getting goals following penalty corners. Shivendra Singh (29th), V.Raghunath (43rd) and Adam Sinclair (54th) chipped in with a goal each.
Though not much of a force to reckon with Bangladesh still were expected to give India a good fight given their track record in the SAF Games but it turned out to be surprisingly easy pickings for the two times champions.
Indians displayed some good hockey and coach Baskaran utilised all the players from the bench alternating them to get them used to the turf. Only goal keeper Bharat Chettri was not changed.
India forced seven penalty corners and got goals from the first four and in the process young drag flicker V.Ragunath also earned his first international goal at this level of international competition when he converted the fourth penalty corner.
India took the lead in the third minute of the game when they forced the first penalty corner and Dilip Tirkey’s shot found the target. After that it took another 21 minutes to get their second goal and this time too their skipper found the target off a penalty corner (2-0).
The Indians increased the pace and pressure to pump in two more goals before the break with Shivendra Singh making it 3-0 in the 29th minute when he dribbled past three defenders and with a superb reverse shot beat the onrushing goal keeper.
Two minutes before the lemon break, Tirkey was again bang on target when he scored following a melee after the third penalty corner (4-0).
Having secured a healthy 4-0 lead in the first session, the Indians tended to over dribble and played extravagant hockey though there was no need for it. They tried to play to the galleries by displaying excessive dribbling and stick work wasting time in mindless heroics.
The Bangladesh team looked disjointed and played a very defensive game that enabled India to earn the penalty corners.
Indian strikers Adam Sinclair, Shivendra Singh and Hari Prasad showed good stick work and made some good attacks but found it tough to get past the beefed up rival defence.
The fifth goal for the Indians came in the 43rd minute when Raghunath with his drag flick converted the fourth penalty corner. And in the 54th minute, Adam Sinclair found the target to complete the tally.
The Indian central midfielders Arjun Halappa and Ignace Tirkey played well with Halappa showing good thrust and anticipation in distributing the ball well.
Ajmer Singh also looked good and so was Gurbaj while Tushar Khandekar was as usual hardworking upfront.
Baskaran was satisfied with the team’s display. “We rotated the players. Everybody was given the chance to get used to the turf.”
”It is good to start the tournament with a big margin of victory”, he said adding “It is a good start but we have tough battles ahead and we cannot get complacent.”
Earlier in the opening pool B match of the men’s tournament, China overpowered Oman 6-1.
Jyoti Gives India Flying Start
December 3, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
Skipper Jyoti Sunita Kullu led the charge scoring three goals as India made a flying start trouncing Chinese Taipei 7-0 in the Women's Hockey competition at the Asian Games here on Sunday.
In the other matches Japan and Korea both took one point home after a 2-2 draw. Malaysia defeated Hong Kong 3-1.
India, played a great match against outsider Taipei. Although it took 18 minutes for the first Indian goal, India was always in control of the match. The winners led 1-0 at half time. India pumped in six more in the second session to record an authentic victory.
Jyoti gave her team the lead in the 18th minute when she converted a penalty corner but after that Indians had to wait for another 20 minutes to get the second goal which was scored by Subhadra Pradhan.
The Indians victory margin would have been much higher but for the missed chances as their fiorwars failed to convert some easy pickings.
Sunita made it 3-0 in the 39th minute and six minutes later the goal tally went up 4-0 with Surinder Kaur chipping in a beautiful goal. Saba Anjum contributed the fifth goal in the 49th minute and the last two goals were shared by Sunita and Surinder Kaur who scored them in the 58th and 66th minute. It was a totally one sided affair with India dominating and dictating proceedings from the start.
"It was a good match,"said Indian coach M.K.Kaushik but "We still have to improve upon our scoring conversions. We need to get the half chances converted."
"Though we won easily, the victory margin should have been more given our dominance," the coach said and added "the tough battle lies ahead. We will have to give a more improved showing in the future matches. It is a very tough competition,"he added.
Kaushik Confident Of Gold Medal
December 1, 2006
Indian Women's Hockey team coach M.K.Kaushik promised a better showing by his team and exuded confidence that ”girls will return home from this Asian Games with a medal.”
Though the Women Hockey tournament in the Asiad starts from Sunday, India will play their first match against Chinese Taipei on December 3.
In the seven-nation tournament to be played on a round robin basis, the other teams are Korea, China, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Kaushik was fully aware of his team’s weak points and was candid enough to admit that China, Korea and Japan are going to be very tough rivals to deal with. ”I know the field is very strong but my players are also ready for the big challenge and we are certain to get a medal this time.”
India had finished a lowly 11th in the 12-nation World Cup held in Madrid in September but Kaushik was unfazed by that ranking. ”Look we lost some matches there very narrowly. In fact we should have won them but now now I think players have worked on their mistakes which they committed in the World Cup and I hope that things will be different here.”
The coach claimed that in most of the matches at Madrid "We dominated several matches but on crucial moments we let go the advantage and that is what I hope will not happen here.”
Kaushik said the players have been repeatedly watching the video of their World Cup matches to find out their grey areas and “have been working on that.”
“We have a very balanced side and I believe that performance of the team will be very good this time” he said adding, ”We have worked on our penalty corners and defence. I know that our penalty corner conversion is not very good. We got a lot of penalty corners but could not convert a majority of them.”
The coach underlined the need of defending the goal and the lead in the later stages of the game saying that most of the time “We allowed the rivals to get away in the dying moments of the game. “We tend to get a bit casual after dominating the proceedings and this habit (being casual) has to be kicked out."
He said “we are working on set pieces inside the 16 yards. Most of the time in 16 yards hits often rivals have taken advantage and we are working on to improve on this area.”
Kaushik admitted that “we still need lot of improvement to be a force to reckon with at the World level. Our fitness level, professional level has to be increased. In fact we need a lot of improvement on all sectors of the game to be a dominant force at the World stage”.
November 30, 2006
A second half hat trick by drag flicker Raghunath enabled India to beat Hong Kong 4-0 in their final warm up game ahead of their Asiad campaign.
Earlier striker Shivendra Singh put them ahead after being set up by Adam Sinclair.
The match was played in two twenty minute sessions and was the first feel for the Indians on the main competition pitch.
Coach Vasudevan Baskaran shuffled his players in various combinations, alternating between Ignace Tirkey and Ajmer Singh in the central midfield, alongside VS Vinaya, Gurbaj Singh and Arjun Halappa.
The rhythm and flow amongst the forwards was apparently missing, thereby casting serious doubts on their gold prospects.
Baskaran was however hopeful that his boys would get the desired spark and sting as the tournament went along. "We are confident of getting into the groove" he said.
India play their opener against Bangladesh on December 4.
India Win Practice Game
November 28, 2006
By Harpal Singh Bedi
India scored a field goal and converted a penalty corner to beat Malaysia 2-0 in a 40-minute practice hockey match here on Wednesday.
Rajpal Singh put India ahead and Ragunath then converted a penalty corner to make it 2-0 for the former champions.
"It was a good match. We wanted to have a feel of the pitch so we asked for the game,"chief coach V.Baskaran said.
"The boys played well on a turf which was bit heavy,"the coach said. "But we got a good practice."
"I am satisfied the way the boys shaped up on this turf," coach Harendra Singh said after the match.
"The boys are in good nick and form but we have told them not to take their rivals lightly. We are playing the opening match against Bangaldesh and it is important that we win by a good margin and it will be dangerous for us to underestimate them," the coach added.
Bhaskaran Aims For Final
November 27, 2006
Indian coach Vasudevan Baskaran said that the first target of his team is to make it to the final of the Asian Games.
"It is very important for us to make it to the finals because that way we will ensure a berth in the Beijing Olympics,” Bhaskaran said.
Baskaran was candid enough to admit that there were lot of expectations from the team back home and "I am hopeful that boys will do well".
Talking to media persons after the team's workout, the coach said, "The Asian Games are very important for India," and added "We are well prepared and have brought an experienced side."
The coach was of the view that it will be wrong to underestimate any team. " Every team will try to give its best on this platform, it is a huge event and our boys understand that.”
“We have worked hard with two major camps back home and now our first target here is to reach the final,” he added.
The first two teams in the hockey competition here will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympiad and the rest will have to go through the qualifiers.
“We are taking the Asian Games very seriously. There is pressure on the side because Indians back home expect instant results from their sporting teams. When they see an Indian team flying out they expect them to come home with a victory,” he said
Team skipper Dilip Tirkey also echoed his coach’s sentiments and said, “we will be focusing on good match results and we will be taking it one match at a time.”
He asserted that he has a very good side. “We have a team that works well together and we will be improving as the tournament goes on.”
The skipper said that his team is taking the match against Bangladesh very seriously. “We face Bangladesh in our opening match and then play China and Korea in that order in the league and for us very match is important. No team can be taken lightly.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian coach Tan Wallace also expressed confidence that his side will make it to the last four and after that it will depend on which team plays well on the given day.
Malaysia which did not qualify for the World Cup now is eyeing a berth in the Beijing Olympiad.
”We will try to get a good result. Our first objective is to get into the semifinals which is tough.”
“Though we are in a tough pool along with Pakistan and Japan but my boys are under no pressure. We know what to expect and we have the right amount of experience,” he added.
Skipper Kuhan Shanmganathan said, “We have the best possible 16 and we have trained together for a year.”
Viren Rasquinha called a press conference and released this statement for the media in Mumbai.
I want to thank the media for coming today. I wish to thank my employers IOCL [Indian Oil Corporation Limited] for wholehearted support for me. A thank-you to the former international players who have turned up in support. I'm saying this right at the beginning because I know that I will forget later on.
I was named in the Indian hockey team for the Doha Asian Games about a week ago. The list of 16 members was told to us by the Chief Coach, V Baskaran, and camp manager Brigadier Siddiqui in Rourkela on November 17th, a day after fitness tests and selection trials were conducted by coaches and selectors.
On the November 24, the team, along with standbys, was put through another round of trials and fitness tests in Gurgaon, supposedly to rule out any last-minute injuries. I ran the 2.4 kms endurance test in 8.54 minutes, well under cut-off time of nine minutes flat.
On November 25 morning, much to my surprise and shock, I was informed by Chief Coach V Baskaran that I had been dropped. He told me that I deserved to be in the team on current form and fitness, but that he was sorry. Later in the day I spoke to the secretary-general of the IHF, Mr. Jothikumaran, and he too told me that I deserve to be in the team and that he too was sorry.
I thank the chief coach and federation secretary for being frank with me. But neither of them told me about the reason for dropping me. WHY have I been dropped on the eve of the Indian team's departure for the Asian Games. As far as I know, no one questioned my on-field performance or my discipline. I have done five fitness tests in the duration of this camp and in all but one of the 2.4 kms runs, I have finished well under stipulated nine minutes each time. In the 40 metre speed tests, I was always within the top three finishers. These records can easily be made public.
I have been told about newspaper reports mentioning that the selectors referred to the fitness tests on the last day as criteria for team selection. If information in these newspaper reports is true, I wish to ask those who take the decision, how come I was dropped when I did better than some of other players at the camp? What about the overall fitness tests and performance over the entire duration of the two-month long training camp.
Dear selectors, what happened in those 36 hours in Gurgaon that suddenly I was deemed not good enough to be in the team? If my fitness was unsatisfactory, why was I named in the Nov 17 team in the first place and kept in the camp till the very end. No genuine reason has been given to me so far and it was embarrassing to be told to go home on the last day.
This, after giving 100% effort and commitment during my entire playing career. I strongly feel that on current form and fitness, my past record and experience in big tournaments should count for something. I have played almost 200 international matches for India with pride, honour and distinction. Otherwise I would not have been bestowed the prestigious Arjuna Award for 2005.
The selectors are all former Olympians, distinguished and respected, but I am sorry to say that I have lost all respect for them. There is a Government Nominee on the selection panel whose job is to ensure that the selection procedure is transparent. I request the reason for my dropping be made public. I think that is the minimum I deserve.
I have always played honestly and with immense pride and commitment for the country and it has deeply saddened and hurt me to be treated this way. This is the third time this year that this has happened to me and it has been one time too many. Now the question is: who are the people responsible for such crucial decisions as players selection for a crucial tournament like the Doha Asian Games.
It has become a fashion to blame the IHF president, Mr K P S Gill, and IHF secretary, Mr. K Jothikumaran, for all selection blunders in Indian hockey, but in this case and a number of others in the recent past, there are certain other insecure people with vested interests who take part in selection meetings and are equally responsible for planning and executing my ouster.
They have been responsible for the systematic annihilation of the entire core of the victorious Indian Team at the 2001 Junior World Cup in Hobart, easily the most talented bunch of hockey players to come out of India in the last decade. Gaganajit Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjoth Singh, Bimal Lakra, Vikram Pillay, Kanwalpreet Singh, Devesh Chauhan and now myself, all members of the 2001 Junior World Cup-winning squad. This batch had done extremely well in 2002 and especially 2003 with the senior team.
Once chief coach Rajinder Singh Sr departed from the scene, these selfish people who have been part of the team management and selection panel at various times destroyed some of the best hockey talent to have come out of India. I am all for encouraging young, talented players, but there is a way to groom them and induct them gradually into the senior team and not throw them directly into a major tournament as important as the Doha Asian Games.
The chief coach, Mr Baskaran, wants me in his team, the IHF secretary, Mr Jothikumaran, admitted that my form and fitness are not in doubt. I am counting on you guys in the media, the Union Sports Ministry and the Indian Olympic Association to ask questions and demand an explanation. I don't really understand the politics of this all, but what I do know is that I have been treated unfairly. There is still time to put this thing right because as per the rules of International Olympic Association, as per which Asian Games is held, the team can still be changed till the last day prior to the first match.
I want to play the Doha Asian Games because I have worked immensely hard for it and I deserve to be there on sheer merit. My best wishes to the team getting ready for the challenge at Doha.
Gurbaj In, Viren Out
November 26, 2006
Midfielder Gurbaj Singh is a surprise inclusion while Harpal Singh, Ajmer Singh and Adam Sinclair have been recalled in the 16-member Indian hockey team to be led by Dilip Tirkey in the Asian Games starting December 1 in Doha.
Gurbaj is a last minute replacement for experienced but unfit Viren Rasquinha.
For Dilip Tirkey, who has been retained to lead the side once again, this will be his third successive asian games.
Five members of the team which represented the country in the World Cup -- Kanwalpreet Singh, Vikram Pillay, Nitin Kumar, Prabodh Tirkey and Gagan Ajit Singh -- were not considered for selection.
Goal Keepers: Adrian D' Souza, Bharat Kumar Chetri
Full Backs: Dilip Tirkey (capt), Harpal Singh, V R Raghunath.
Midfielders: V S Vinaya, Arjun Halappa, Gurbaj Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Ajmer Singh.
Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandker, Shivendra Singh, Tejbir Singh, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair.
Chief Coach: Vasudevan Bhaskaran
Coach: Harendra Singh
Manager: Harinder Dhillon
Physio: Ravi Kanakamedala