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India lose to Argentina, finish 8th

March 12, 2010 20:57 IST
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India's disastrous hockey World Cup campaign ended with a 2-4 defeat to Argentina, consigning them to eighth place in the 12th edition of the mega-event, at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National stadium, in Delhi, on Friday.

Argentina, meanwhile, registered their second seventh place finish in the tournament since 1994, when they defeated Korea on penalty strokes.

In an earlier match, New Zealand scored in the last minute of regulation time and then held their nerve to beat South Africa 9-8 via the sudden death penalty shoot-out to finish ninth.

The Argentines started their campaign in Delhi with three straight defeats but bounced back strongly, posting three consecutive victories, including today's.

The eighth place finish can be seen as marked improvement for the Indians, who finished 11th in the last edition of the tournament in Monchengladbach, Germany. But it cannot hide the fact that they scored just one victory -- against Pakistan in their first encounter -- and lost four and drew one out of the six matches they played in the tournament.

Incidentally, it was against the same opponents that India lost 2-3 in the 9th-12th classification match in Monchengladbach.

For Argentina, Martin Lucas Villa (43rd minute, 45th) scored twice, while Tomas Innocente Argento (28th) and Facundo Callioni (46th) scored a goal each in the seventh-eighth place classification match.

The Indians reduced the margin through Sandeep Singh (42nd minute) and Shivendra Singh (49th).

The Argentines, with the victory, extended their win-loss record against India in the World Cup. In the eight matches played between the two sides, Argentina won five and lost two while one game ended in no result.

India started the match on an aggressive note but lacked the finishing touch inside the Argentine circle. They controlled the game for most part of the opening half and had the greater share of ball possession, but the forwards were unable to transform them into goals.

The solid pressure resulted in two penalty-corners but on both occasions ace drag-flicker Sandeep could not find the back of the Argentine net.

In contrast, Argentina's onslaughts on the Indian goal were far and few between and came mostly from counter attacks.

Veteran Prabhjot Singh failed to make any impression yet again and was seen engaging in an altercation with the disappointed spectators. He even showed his middle finger to the crowd in frustration.

Gurwinder Singh Chandi got a fantastic opportunity to give India the lead in the 17th minute, but his shot from an Arjun Halappa pass went slightly wide.

And it was Argentina who scored first, against the run of play in the 28th minute. All the hard work from the Indians in the first half changed in the blink of an eye when Argento scored to take the South Americans into the breather 1-0 ahead.

The script was similar after the change of ends as the home team maintained the pressure on the Argentine defence with constant raids.

The Indians finally got the much sought-after equaliser in the 42nd minute through a penalty stroke from Sandeep after the on-field umpire's decision was upheld by the video umpire.

Poor defence and unforced errors in midfield marred India's day yet again as they conceded three soft goals in a span of four minutes much to the disappointment of the cheering crowd.

Lucas Villa scored twice within two minutes -- first from a penalty-corner and then a field goal -- to draw curtains on the home team's shoddy campaign in the tournament.

As if that was not enough, Callioni made it 4-1 two minutes later through a field goal to sum up yet another disappointing day for Indian hockey.

Three minutes later, Shivender Singh pulled one back for the hosts from a counter-attack to raise hopes of a late fightback that was not to be.

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