India face Argentina for their best finish in 16 years
Win or lose, India will finish at their best in 16 years at the Hockey World Cup when they take on Argentina in the seventh-eighth place play-off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.india Updated: Mar 11, 2010 18:41 IST
Win or lose, India will finish at their best in 16 years at the Hockey World Cup when they take on Argentina in the seventh-eighth place play-off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.
India finished fifth in 1982 and 1994, and then the slide began. They finished ninth in 1998, 10th in 2002 and slipped a place to 11th position in the last edition at Monchengladbach.
Argentina may be the lowest ranked team in the tournament at 14th, but history will be on their side when they take on the hosts.
India have met Argentina seven times at the World Cup and lost on four occasions, including the 2-3 loss in the last World Cup for the 9-12 place play-off.
India's last win against Argentina came way back in 1978. Argentina's best finish was sixth in 1986 and 2002.
After three defeats, Argentina beat New Zealand and then defeated Canada in their last match to finish their league engagements with six points.
India would be looking to end their World Cup campaign on a winning note after losing three league matches and being held by South Africa in the last match. Their only victory against arch-rivals Pakistan on the opening day had raised the expectations of the fans, but the subsequent losses to Australia, England and Spain dashed their hopes of a better finish.
The team played well in patches and impressed with an improved level of fitness. But the defence let them down time and again. India's Spanish coach Jose Brasa is right when he says there is still a long way to go before India can catch up with European teams.
In other classification matches, South Korea will take on Spain for the fifth-sixth place play-off while New Zealand play South Africa for the ninth-tenth.