2000 Sydney Olympics: Controversies affect India’s chances (Sports Special)July 22nd, 2012 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS
For the umpteenth time, the Indian hockey team’s preparations for the Olympics were hampered by the usual quota of controversies and uncertainties. After the poor finish at the 1996 Atlanta Games, there was another shuffle in the coaching department with Vasudevan Baskaran coming in for Cedric D’Souza who had been in the post earlier.
There was so much secrecy about team selection that few could fathom the motives of the Indian Hockey Federation that selected the team after two rounds of trials held in Australia. The only major change though was the ejection of triple Olympian and skipper Pargat Singh Powar, notwithstanding a few surprise inclusions.
Despite the pre-event confusion, the players seemed to keep their focus on the job on hand and all but qualified for the semi-finals. Their only defeat in the league was to Korea as India remained in contention for the medal rounds going into the last match with Poland.
Leading 1-0 on a Dilip Tirkey penalty corner conversion, India looked certain to win the game and advance to the semi-finals. However, Poland equalised a minute from the close to dash Indian hopes. India finished on par with Korea on points and the tie was broken on the basis of the result between the two teams.
“We were unlucky to draw with Poland when in fact we should have won. Our players did not keep possession in the final minute, but gave the ball away leading to a counter attack and goal,” recalled Baskaran.
Still mulling over the lost chance, India lost their classification match to Great Britain before defeating Argentina 3-1 to finish seventh.
Indian team: Ramandeep Singh Grewal (captain), Jude Menezes, Devesh Singh Chauhan, Dilip Kumar Tirkey, Lazarus Balra, Dinesh Nayak, Baljeet Singh Saini, Sukhbir Singh Gill, Mohd Riaz, Selvaraj Tirumal Valavan, Mukesh Kumar, Sameer Dad, Deepak Thakur Sonkhia, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Dhanraj Pillay, Gangan Ajit Singh.
League - beat Argentina 3-0 (Sameer Dad 2; Mukesh Kumar 1).
India drew Australia 2-2 (Mukesh Kumar 1; Baljeet Singh Dhillon 1).
India lost to Korea 0-2.
India beat Spain 3-2 (Baljeet Singh Dhillon 2; Dilip Kumar Tirkey 1).
India drew with Poland 1-1 (Dilip Kumar Tirkey 1).
Playoffs (5-8 positions): India lost to Great Britain 1-2 (Dilip Kumar Tirkey 1). Classification (7-8): India beat Argentina 3-1 (Deepak Thakur 1; Sukhbir Singh Gill 1; Dhanraj Pillay 1).
Positions: Netherlands 1; Korea 2; Australia 3; Pakistan 4; Germany 5; Great Britain 6; India 7; Argentina 8; Spain 9; Canada 10; Malaysia 11; Poland 12.
(Anand Philar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: 2000 sydney olympics, ajit singh, atlanta games, baljit singh, baskaran, coaching department, deepak thakur, devesh, dhanraj pillay, dhillon, dilip kumar, gangan, indian hockey federation, jude menezes, last match, mukesh kumar, powar, saini, selvaraj, sukhbir singh