Asian teams miss out on hockey medal yet again

August 20th, 2008 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (IANS) For the second successive Olympic Games, there will be no Asian team on the podium at the hockey competition. Asian champions South Korea, who had an outside chance of making the last four grade Tuesday, were beaten 1-2 and shut out of the semi-finals. Pakistan and China were already out of the reckoning.The Olympic men’s hockey competition semi-finals, which are scheduled from Thursday, will feature three European team battling against defending champions Australia.

Spain meet Australia in one semi-final and the other one will see World Cup champions Germany meeting the Netherlands.

Interestingly, three of the four semi-finalists are still unbeaten in the competition, with only Spain having lost a league match to Germany by a solitary goal.

This will be the fourth time in last six Olympic Games since Seoul in 1988 that the Asian teams have failed to win any medals, emphasising the demise of Asian teams in the sport, where they once dominated through the exploits of eight-time champions India and three-times winners Pakistan.

India’s former hockey captain Ajit Pal Singh is among a group of former skippers who is here to watch and observe other teams and hopefully they will have something substantial to offer in terms of suggestions and advice.

India, who failed to qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time since 1928, have not won a medal since 1980 and Pakistan last won the title in 1984 and a bronze in 1992. South Korea, who have taken over from the sub-continental giants, had a silver in the 2000 Sydney Games.

At this Olympics, Spain, who had four wins in five league matches, topped Group A with 12 points. Germany, without a loss in five games, were second with 11 points, while Korea were a distant third at seven.

Hosts China, silver medallist at Asian Games in Doha, were sixth and last in the same pool and their only point came through a draw with New Zealand.

In the other group, the Netherlands and Australia were unbeaten through the league. But defending champions Australia, despite scoring heavily against teams like South Africa (10-0) and Canada (6-1) seemed to struggle at times, especially against Britain with whom they drew 3-3 after trailing 0-1 at half time in their last league match.

Pakistan lost three of their matches; the worst was their 2-4 loss to Britain. Interestingly, it was Britain who beat India in the final of the Olympic qualifier in Chile earlier this year.

Gold medallist at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, the Netherlands beat Pakistan 4-2 in the final pool B match to finish with four wins and a draw.

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