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India’s super nine fail to impress Brasa

other Updated: Nov 17, 2010 23:31 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times
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One was a winner even before it took the field, the other won most of the exchanges but lost the contest.

The Bangladesh men's hockey team, which has hardly tormented India on astro-turf, played true to form, losing 0-9, while the Indian women, led by Surinder Kaur, missed chances galore against South Korea to go down 0-1 at the Aoti Sports Centre on Wednesday.

After the 7-0 drubbing they handed out to Hong Kong in the Group B opener, Rajpal Singh's men hardly expected a challenge from Bangladesh, who are here with "more officials and support staff than players".

Shivendra Singh started the glut in the second minute and goals from half-a-dozen players later, India were laughing away to the goal-bank. In between, drag-flicker Sandeep Singh pumped in a second-half hattrick to somewhat lift the gloom in the camp, which is reeling under a gold-drought. Still, coach, Jose Brasa, was seething with anger, not so much because of the performance of his wards but for the "poor" quality of astro-turf. "The boys could have scored many more goals, which concerns me." He then launched a scathing attack on the international hockey federation (FIH) for not ensuring a proper playing arena.

"The pitch is very bouncy, which is against hockey norms. The synthetic material used to prepare the turf is approved nowhere for international competitions. These are things the FIH knows but doesn't do anything about. Rules say the turf should be 'set' for at least a year before any major competition, but here they gave us a brand new polypropylene pitch."

Gerhard Rach, Bangladesh's coach for two years --- who also trained India for less than a year (2004-2005) and left in a huff — had his own axe to grind against the hockey officials. The German fretted and fumed as he said the association had not given him 11 players for the Games. "We are fighting with just 11 players. The Bangladesh Hockey Federation is incompetent. I will quit after the Games. We are barely managing 11 players on the field while the officials are on a holiday. We don't even have a videographer."

Even as the two coaches seethed, Pakistan got on with the job of humbling Hong Kong in Group B. Goal difference will come into play when the teams queue up to make it to the semifinals, and Pakistan, knowing that India have 16 goals from two outings, went on the offensive, driving in a dozen goals.

Pakistan play India on November 20, knowing well they have to erase the 7-4 Delhi Games drubbing before getting on to the field. The Indian women could well have put themselves on the path to the final. But the 0-1 loss ensured that they will be in contention for bronze, for now.