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Defending for pride

india Updated: Mar 06, 2010 02:00 IST
B Shrikant

In American basketball, cheerleaders have a special drill for egging on their team’s defence. With chants of “D-E-F-E-N-S-E, D-E-F-E-N-S-E,” the cheerleaders remind the players of the basics of good defence.

England vs Iindia in numbers
* England have won their last two World Cup encounters with India 3-2 in 2002 and 2006.
* India's last WC win over England came in the match for 5-6th position in 1994 (1-0).
* India's biggest WC win over England came in 1982 (4-2).
* England have collected maximum points at Delhi 2010, beating Australia (3-2), South Africa (6-4) and Pakistan (5-2).
* India have three points. They started well by beating Pakistan 4-1 but then lost by identical 5-2 margin to Australia and Spain.
* England have scored 14 goals thus far, 10 field goals and 4 PCs.
* England have converted four of the eight penalty corners they earned in three matches (50%).

Having seen his team’s shoddy work against Spain and Australia, chief coach, Jose Brasa, should consider employing a set of cheerleaders who would remind India about the basics of defence, clean trapping and strong man-to-man marking.

Brasa might have also learnt a vital lesson against Spain - depending on makeshift defenders is not advisable. Brasa converted Dhananjay Mahadik, an attacking midfielder, and Bharat Chikara, a forward, into full backs, with only the nervy and erratic Sandeep Singh as the regular defender. The result was they made basic errors in trapping and marking the forwards.

A slow mover, Sandeep compounded his problems by fumbling and losing the ball to the rival forwards. With Chikara too off-colour, the defence conceded soft goals and lost 2-5 to Spain. Brasa said he couldn’t do much if his players played like schoolboys and committed errors seen in kids’ hockey.

In future, he should watch domestic tournaments with the selectors and pick good defenders, instead of converting forwards and midfielders into full backs. Otherwise, history will repeat itself in Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Slow the pace

Brasa and his boys should slow the pace and strengthen the defence on Saturday against England, who have made giant

Can India reach the semifinal?
* Yes
* They have to beat England (9 points) and South Africa, hope Pakistan (3 points) beat Australia (6) and South Africa (0) and Spain (6) hold both England and Australia.
* This means that England would finish at 10 points with India and Pakistan at 9 each. As India have beaten Pakistan, they go through as the second team from the pool.
* Australia finish with 7 points and Spain with 8. Highly improbable, going by current form.
strides in the last few years. After three successive wins, England lead Pool B with nine points. A victory against England will maintain India’s slim chances of making the semis. The hosts will advance if they win against England and South Africa; Spain draw against Australia and England; and Pakistan beat Australia but lose to South Africa.

Brasa, however, was realistic. “We are virtually out of the race for the semifinals and should fight for 5-6th position. Victory against England will keep our hopes alive,” he said.

England are depleted following the withdrawal of Richard Mantell, who fractured his right leg against Pakistan on Thursday. Mantell is a key defender and their second drag flicker.

The India forwards need to show more coordination and decisiveness in the rival 23-yard area. They are using the flanks well but need to be aggressive in the midfield.

Mantell blow for Eng

The 2010 World Cup will not be one to remember for England’s Mantell brothers. While younger brother Simon had to leave Delhi two days before the start because of a foot injury, older brother Richard dislocated and fractured his right leg on Thursday and has withdrawn from tournament on Friday.