Indian team’s Achilles heel was exposed when they failed to convert any of the dozen penalty corners in their 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament. India’s weakness at penalty corner conversion has been a perennial problem that generations of coaches have failed to solve.
"If you cannot convert even one of a dozen penalty corners, then there is nothing much you can do,” was coach Joaquim Carvalho’s rueful admission.
Thursday’s loss, India’s second in four matches, effectively dashed their hopes of making it to the final unless New Zealand, who have qualified, open the door for them by beating Argentina on Saturday. Then again, in such an eventuality, India will need to overcome Japan to tie with Argentina on nine points in which case, the goal-difference would be taken into account. At the moment, India have scored eight goals and conceded seven as against Argentina’s 10-7.
India are scheduled to play the second game on Saturday after the New Zealand-Argentina match. Argentina require only a draw to advance to the final. The event provides India a chance to get into the top six bracket. Only the winner here gets to play in the 2008 Champions Trophy.