India is virtually out of the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup when they were defeated 3-2 by Argentina in Ipoh, Malaysia this evening.
It was their third defeat in the tournament and they have only one match remaining – against arch-rivals Pakistan on Thursday night. They have six points from five matches.
Indian assistant coach Mohamad Riaz attributed their defeat to missing many sitters throught the match.
“We penetrated in their semi circle more than they did against us but they made use of their chances well. Our defence was also slow in clearing the ball. Sardar and Sarvanjit made errors and that cost us the goals,” said Riaz.
“Playing Pakistan has never been easy and we need to win that match to finish as high as we can. Making the final looks like an outside chance but defeating Pakistan is always important for Indian hockey.
“We aim to make up for our poor performances with a solid performance against Pakistan. Its one match the players are always motivated to play.”
It was a boring first half as both teams played listlessly in the blazing afternoon heat that somewhat affected their performance.
Still Argentina looked the better team as India was playing lacklusture hockey although Tuesday was a rest day for all teams.
Argentina took the lead in the 37th minute through Matias Enrique Peredes. And barely had India time to catch the breath that Santiago Montelli scored in the very next minute.
India were shell-shocked and redoubled their efforts. They were duly rewarded in the 49th minute when Sardar Singh scored with a delightful reverse.
That gave India the confidence to make more forays into the Argentina semi circle but they could not put away the chances.
Argentina punished the sloppy Indian defence in the 58th minute through a goal by Gonzalo Peillat who converted a penalty corner.
Though india reduced the deficit via a penalty corner converted by VR Ragunath in the 62nd minute, it was a little too late for them to salvage anything from this match.
Meanwhiule Great Britain burst the winning bubble of New Zealand, inflicting a 2-1 defeat on the table toppers.
The win gave them 7 points from four outings and they look odds on favourites to make the final on Sunday.
For New Zealand the defeat was nothing to be ashamed off as they were without two key players in the likes of Simon Child and Ryan Archibald.
“We had two key midfielders out today due to some knocks they picked up after our last match on Monday. The two day break was not enough to overcome the injuries and hence our midfield somewhat suffered a breakdown” said New Zealand coach Shane Mcleod.
“It was a much better second half performance though as we were back with our normal flowing hockey. But chasing a two goal deficit is never easy against an experienced side like Britain.
“On the hindsight though we picked up some pointers that will help us in our quest for Olympic glory this July. We could have snatched a draw but Andy (Hayward) has been somewhat inconsistent but that’s not a major worry for me.
“We still have two more matches to go and while defeat is always painful, we are looking forward to the match against Malaysia tomorrow (Thursday) with confidence.”
Great Britain opened scoring in the 18th minute through Ashley Jackson. And they doubled their advantage in the 27th minute when Matt Daly scored.
New Zealand had two penalty corners in the first half but failed as Hayward was off form.
Hayward finally found the target in the 62nd minute and will now look towards their matches against Malaysia and Korea.