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2018 World Cup News
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England endure medal round trauma again (12/16/2018)
--Errol D’Cruz
It’s all too familiar for England. This is their third semifinal defeat in the World Cup and after two fourth-place finishes at New Delhi 2010 and The Hague 2014, the team has to pick itself up ahead of the bronze medal match a day after a crushing 0-6 defeat to Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday.

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It’s a daunting task, given that their opponents will be the redoubtable Australians, the No. 1 ranked team and dethroned holders who were stopped by the Netherlands in the other semifinal but only after a shootout. Six members of the current squad finished empty handed in The Hague four years ago. Barry Middleton, captain at the time, Harry Martin, Michael Hoare, Mark Gleghorne, Adam Dixon and goalkeeper George Pinner experienced the sinking feeling of missing out on a medal.

England kept hosts Netherlands down to just a single goal in their semifinal and were undone by Argentina 0-2 in the fight for the bronze.

Eight years ago in New Delhi, England were beaten by Germany 1-4 in the semifinals before going down to the Netherlands 3-4 in the third-fourth place play off. Middleton and Adam Dixon, members of the squad in Bhubaneswar, were in action at the Indian capital.

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Two of the current squad also carry baggage from the 2012 London Olympics, albeit playing as Great Britain – a team comprising almost fully England players.

Middleton, the iconic midfielder who turns 35, next year and who has logged 431 international matches and Harry Martin, who also plays in the midfield, were members of the team ravaged 2-9 by the Netherlands in the 2012 Olympic semifinals.

And like here in Bhubaneswar, the duo had to put the hiding behind them and take on Australia, the hot favourites, beaten by Germany 2-4 in the semifinals. Great Britain lost, but only 1-3, in a spirited display that belied the trauma of the previous match.

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As many as 12 of this England squad are making their World Cup debut and may not be burdened with the despair of missing out on a medal in two previous outings of the World Cup.

But they’ll need every mentoring by the 34-year-old Middleton, who has just played his 430th international match, and 26-year-old Martin (200) to cope with the after-effects of a devastating rout in the semifinals. After all, the prospect of playing arch-rivals Australia, smarting at being pipped at the post by the Netherlands in the semifinals in their quest to complete a hat-trick of World Cup titles, isn't the best way to recover and move ahead.

Photos: s2h photographer Rakesh

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