In their first match against Pakistan, India played just like chief coach, Jose Brasa, wanted them to — Asian style of attacking hockey with European style of defence. And we lauded them.
On Thursday, in the do-or-die clash against world No. 3 Spain, India played the Asian style with a leaky defence. Dhananjay Mahadik fought a lone battle while Sandeep Singh fumbled even in build-up when there was no Spanish attacker near him. Bharat Chikara too was not as solid as he was against Pakistan.
As a result, India lost 2-5 to succumb to their second successive defeat in the Hero Honda FIH Hockey World Cup and are virtually out of the semi-final race. They have three points from three games, the same as archrivals Pakistan.
The hosts would have lost by a bigger margin but for goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who came up with at least half a dozen reflex saves. Brasa’s tactics went awry. The players committed the same errors in defence, the forwards failed to backup each other up and crosses flew across the face of the goal, as there was no one to intercept them. The team also failed to come up with variation on penalty corners.
Spain, on the other hand, capitalised on India’s mistakes and rode on goals by Albert Sala (19th min) and Pol Amat (35th min) to go up 2-0 at half-time. Though India reduced the margin via Sandeep Singh in the 39th minute, Pau Quemada (41st) and Ramon Alegre (42nd) scored in the space of a minute to end the Indian resurgence.
Gurvinder Singh Chandi made it 4-2 in the 43rd minute but Quemada scored his second goal off another penalty corner to seal the issue in favour of Spain. India earned five penalty corners but could score only off one while Spain capitalised on two of their four. The effectiveness of the Spanish attack could be judged from the fact that they had 17 shots on goal of which only two were wide.
In comparison, India had only eight shots at the rival goal of which one was wide. Apart from Sreejesh and Mahadik, Arjun Halappa and Sardar Singh had a good game but the others failed to match them.The huge crowd was on its feet till midway through the first half as the Indians launched some great attacks but their indecisiveness and lack of ideas left the fans disappointed.
Spain-India action in pics | Listen to podcast