India to take on Argentina

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India will seek to restore some pride when they take on Argentina in their last group B hockey league match in Athens on Monday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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With their Olympic medal dream lying in tatters, a demoralised India will seek to restore some pride when they take on Argentina in their last group B hockey league match here tomorrow. A last second goal against New Zealand in the previous match has dashed whatever little hopes the team harboured for a semi-final berth. And now their target will be to improve upon their seventh-place finish in the Sydney Games. Things have gone totally awry for the team which undertook an extensive training programme in the United States and Germany in the build-up to the Olympics. They have failed to play anywhere near their best in the tournament which has seen several so-called weaker teams like South Africa and New Zealand springing a surprise or too. Defending champions Holland and Australia have already qualified for the semifinals from group B while India were placed fourth in the group with three points alongwith South Africa. New Zealand have six points to their credit from four matches while Argentina have managed just one. Injury problems While the on-field performance has been far from impressive, the spate of injuries to a number of key players has compounded the misery for the team. With defender William Xalco ruled out of the tournament and Deepak Thakur, Baljeet Singh Dhillon and Sandeep Singh in the casualty list as well, the Indians would struggle to field a team against the Argentinians who are capable of beating any team on their day. "There are so many injuries that I don't know if I will be able to find 11 fit players for the match tomorrow," chief coach Gerhard Rach said. Xalco has a fractured thumb and can take no further part in the tournament while forward Deepak Thakur was still in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital in the Games Village for breathing problem and is unlikely to take any further part in the tournament. A shoulder injury to Dhillon and niggling injuries to few other players mean that India will hardly be in the right frame of mind when they go into their last league match at the Helliniko Hockey Centre, a floodlit encounter they must win to aim for a higher place in the classifications. The Indians will try to put away the controversies of the last match against New Zealand which saw India concede a penalty corner in the last second to lose the match 1-2. This triggered off unruly scenes in the galleries by a group of Indian supporters who hurled absues at the Spanish umpire Xavier Adell. (PTI)

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