Hockey: India's title hopes end with 0-1 semis loss to Argentina

Updated: Dec 09, 2017, 13:05 IST | Sundeep Misra | Bhubaneswar

In a match played in driving rain, on a water-logged pitch, the magical quality of a semi-final so wonderfully set up between the Olympic Champions Argentina and Asian Champions India failed to take off

In a match played in driving rain, on a water-logged pitch, the magical quality of a semi-final so wonderfully set up between the Olympic Champions Argentina and Asian Champions India failed to take off. The match did happen and the Olympic Champions clinched it 1-0, thanks to a wonderful penalty corner conversion by Gonzalo Peillat in the 17th minute.

Disappointed Indian players console teammate Akashdeep Singh (on his knees) after their defeat to Argentina in the Hockey World League semi-final at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar yesterday. Pic/ PTI
Disappointed Indian players console teammate Akashdeep Singh (on his knees) after their defeat to Argentina in the Hockey World League semi-final at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar yesterday. pic/PTI

The rest of the quarters were a massive struggle between stick and ball and the psychological burden of playing your tactical game on a pitch where the ball was unpredictable. There was talk of the match being postponed but rarely has the FIH ever pushed a match to the next day because of rains.

Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne said disappointment was a natural feeling for him and the team, but this is one match he wouldn't bother about sitting and watching a replay. "Yes, the result was in Argentina's favour," he said. "But we didn't get the match we wanted. Both deserved a good game and that didn't happen."

Yet he said Argentina deserved the 1-0 win as they defended very well. India, in fact, came together in the 4th quarter, but however hard they pressed, they couldn't break through the South Americans defence.

Unlucky India
"It was equal for both teams in terms of the match situation," said Marijne. "But I think we pushed them and did deserve a goal in the 4th quarter." Argentina did push in the first two quarters and India struggled with the conditions. Peillat, probably the best penalty corner converter in the world at the moment picked his spot and let fly a flick that entered into the corner. It was unstoppable.

Compact Argentina
India did get two penalty corners; but couldn't punch it in. They did have possession in the last quarter and virtually camped in the Argentine striking circle. But the Olympic Champions were just too compact in their defence.

"They are after all the No. 1 team, and that is expected from them," said Marijne. India now play for 3rd and 4th on tomorrow and they would like to repeat the Raipur bronze medal again.

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