India Fails to Make it to Olympic Hockey - First Time in 80 Years


Santiago, Mar 10: Great Britain scored twice in the first-half and ended India's Olympic dreams with a 2-0 victory in the final of the World Hockey qualifying tournament at the Prince of Wales Country Club, in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday.

Barry Middleton (4th minute) and Richard Mantell (10th) scored for Britain, who then showed the discipline and character to withstand intense pressure in the late night match and win a ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Eight-time gold medallists India failed to make it to the Olympics for the first time since their debut in 1928.

While the British players celebrated to the accompaniment of the song We are the Champions, the Indians, heads bowed, could only watch the jubilant scenes of a team that played smarter if not better hockey.

On the day, it was Britain who showed a lot of steel in dealing with the massive pressure they were subjected to by the Indian forwards. The difference was that Britain, who had beaten India 3-2 in the league, capitalized on the two early chances that came their way, while the Indians did not.

India could never really settle down and the two yellow cards to their key players, midfielder Sardara Singh and forward Prabhjot Singh filled their cup of woe. It brought the number of yellow cards to five in three matches.

India also blew away five penalty-corners, with neither Ramachandra Raghunath, with his drag-flicks, nor Dilip Tirkey. with his direct hits, able to convert. In fact, their set-piece drill in the second-half was rather pathetic, as the ball was not even stopped cleanly.

Britain's first-half tactics were fairly obvious and that was to seize early initiative. Two goals within the first 10 minutes put them firmly in front while pushing India on the backfoot.

While Britain's performance was slick and sure, the Indians struggled to get going. The two teams were a study in contrast with Britain sticking to basics of close marking, quick release and positional play.

Middleton scrambled the ball in from a Ashley Jackson pass with the Indian defence caught square in the fourth minute and then Richard Mantell drag-flicked a 10th minute penalty-corner to put Britain on top.

India did knit together a few moves, but at the finish it was the same old tale of wrong passes and, at times, too much of individual play. With the time ticking by, India made desperate attempts force a penalty-corner and finally succeeded in the 31st minute. But Raghunath failed to beat goalkeeper Alistair McGregor.

A little earlier, Sardara Singh was sent out with two green cards in the 26th minute and his absence meant another round of reshuffling that affected Indian team balance.

In between the Indian attacks, Britain squeezed a couple of more raids and nearly scored twice with Jackson and then Tindall shooting wide of target.

On resumption, the Indians attacked with some urgency, but they suffered a setback when Prabhjot Singh was sent out with a yellow card suspension for deliberate stick-check. Yet again, it limited India's options while leaving a huge hole in the frontline.

India's persistence fetched them their second penalty-corner in the 47th minute, but goalkeeper McGregor easily blocked Dilip Tirkey's direct hit.

Seven minutes later, India forced three penalty-corners in quick succession, but twice Ignace Tirkey and then Shivendra Singh failed to stop the ball. Worse still, Ignace limped off the field after being struck on the knee by the British charger.

At the other end, goalkeeper Baljit Singh kept India in the game with some good saves as Britain wasted three penalty-corners.

Even as Indians grew in desperation, Britain kept their composure to survive the vital final moments of a match that barely rose to expectations in terms of quality though did not lack intensity and passion.

Earlier, Russia defeated Austria 6-3 to finish overall third while Chile overcame Mexico 9-3 in the play-off for 5-6 places.


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Comment on this article

  • abdul sarfraz,

    Tue, Mar 11 2008

    Indian Hockey Federation president has to step down from his position. The management of hockey fedaration has to be changed. The new management has to take some critical decision as they have to appoint coach from India, because they can better teach skills of Indian hockey. Any how the Indian hockey team will never come back to its golden era.

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  • Denzil Fernandes, dubai

    Thu, Mar 13 2008

    Indian hockey in doldrums ! The dismal day was not far away. The signals were there for the last so many years. The once mighty force in International Hockey, India had to bite the dust due to their own mismanagement at home. After dominating the game in such grand fashion, India will now be mere spectators at the forthcoming Olympics in Beijing having been eliminated from the qualification contest in Argentina by Britain in the finals. The rise and fall of Indian hockey does not mean anything to the officials who occupy the high chairs at the Indian Hockey Federation.

    Ruled by a non listening autocrat and a former Punjab cop, Indian hockey is at its lowest position right now. There was a time when the Indians won because of the presence of so many players from Punjab. Very curiously, India's downfall today is also due to a Punjab official who remains adamant in his seat. Even against lowly teams India finds it tough to prevail. The players who used to come from Punjab earlier are slowly disappearing and the game does not have any supporters commercially. With cricket having a boom, the cash rich companies are not interested in supporting hockey. Having played the game myself, I have seen the best of players in Inda who pleased with their flowing style of the game. Today's game is the hit and run type which suits the Europeans.

    Although we have tried to adapt to the robust continental style, our poor physical abilities prevent us from succeeding at the top level. It is time for the government to take drastic action. There are many who want to help revive Indian hockey. But unless these well wishers are given a chance to improve the game India will continue to be a spectator in International hockey. Only when the present IHF officials vacate their chairs Indian hockey will have a new and bright future.

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  • virender thakur, madrid spain

    Tue, Mar 11 2008

    Logical to say that Buerocrats must step down and let competent ex-hockey players take over.

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  • Rafi Ahmad Ali, Mangalore, @ Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    Mon, Mar 10 2008

    While Twenty20 Cricket team erned more mone there were lot of noise that other games doesn't get equal, now take the Hockey team, Is it not counted? Do they deserve anything?

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  • Robert Fernandes, Dubai

    Mon, Mar 10 2008

    It's a fact we Indians will find hard to digest. Unfortunately, the amount of attention given to Hockey compared to Cricket in India is very very meagre.

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  • Stanley D'souza, Abu Dhabi

    Mon, Mar 10 2008

    I don't believe this

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  • Ramesh Kundar, Harady/KSA

    Mon, Mar 10 2008

    It's very shamefull to us.

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