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2001 PM Gold Cup: India defeat Egypt in the semis (3/3/2001)
--s2h
It's India-Pakistan Final

DHAKA: India pumped in eights goals without taking one in the semi-final against hapless Egypt. Skipper Baljit Dhillon, newcomer Arjun Halappa and Deepak Thakur scored two goals each whereas Dhanraj Pillay and debutant Radhakrishnan shared the rest. Pakistan also won its semi-final against Japan and thus Dhaka will witness the titans- India-Pak - clash tomorrow in the final.

DAY I 10th MARCH, 2001

JAPAN 1 BANGLADESH 1

DAY II 11th MARCH, 2001

PAKISTAN 3 CHINA 1; INDIA 5 SCOTLAND 1; EGYPT 4 MALAYSIA 2

DAY III 12th MARCH, 2001

CHINA 2 IRELAND 1; SCOTLAND 2 BANGLADESH 1

DAY IV 13th MARCH, 2001

INDIA 3 JAPAN 1; IRELAND 1 MALAYSIA 0; PAKISTAN 4 EGYPT 1

DAY V 14th MARCH, 2001

CHINA 3 EGYPT 2 ; INDIA 2 BANGLADESH 1;

DAY VI 15th MARCH, 2001

MALAYSIA 1 CHINA 0; JAPAN 1 SCOTLAND 0; PAKISTAN 6 IRELAND 1

DAY VII 16th MARCH, 2001

EGYPT 2 IRELAND 1; PAKISTAN 3 MALALYSIA 1. DON'T TAKE EGYPT LIGHTLY SATURDAY 17 March, 2001

CRUCIAL SEMI-FINAL TOMORROW

Weak team and crucial match ia always a crucible. Uncertainty is most likely outcome. For, whenever strong teams take on so-called weak teams, it's always pressure on the former. Nothing to lose, the weak team focus on draw, crowd the defense and would make the scoring business a pretty tough job. This has often been India's bugbear too.

One need not travel deep down the memory lane in search of examples. As late as Sydney Olympics, Poland-India match proved this beyond any doubt. India could not defeat Poland, not even much needed two goals, and with that went the life time chance to be in the semis of the Olympics. Even when we won the gold in Moscow, we could not beat the polishmen. The league match ended a draw.

On the eve of India meeting the African outfit Egypt in tomorrow's semi-final, the best advice for Indian team is, 'don't take the Egyptians lightly'. Yes, play a normal game without getting into pressure mould but be informed the potential capabilities of Egypt.

For the last three years, unlike Indians, who has the habit of forming a 'new' team after every tournament, the Egyptians are playing together. A big force in their continent, they often proved a tough nut for India in this period.

Despite having a dozen senior players in its rank, India failed in the final of the Akhbar El Yom tournament in 1999 against Egypt. The scoreline went 1-3 in favour of the host. In the same tournament, the host Egypt outwitted India 'A' next year in the semi-final at a telling score of 2-4. Only in the third attempt, India could come on its own. The fear of only drawing the host in the league match was thankfully overcome in the final. Baljit Singh Chandi led India had to sweat a lot for the Cup victory at caior last month. The normal time ended 1-1 before Brojen Singh, one of the three players to figure in the all three editions of the Cup, posted the winner in the extra time.

A year prior to this, draw was what India A under the captaincy of Rajesh Chauhan could force in the Golden Jubilee Cup at Nairobi on 24th August, 1999. That in the end India reached the final of the competition is a different matter.

Egyptian's grit, pugnacity, athletic prowess and brusque methods of game are well known. For those fortunate souls who witnessed them playing the 1994 Indira Cup(Lucknow, India) would vouchsafe for the abundance of these virtues. True, Magdey Abdullah, the old war horse has retired since then but not before a few competent replacement had surfaced.

Not many times did India reach the semifinal of tournaments in the first place and if so emerged unscatched. 1998 Commonwealth Games, 1999 Asia Cup and others are a few such reminders to the talisman.

Egypt was distinctly lucky to be in the semifinal at Dhaka event at the expense of Scotland. Let' us hope that India would not provide further flip on this count.

As an exception, India defeated Egypt 8-2 in the 1999 Junior Challenge Cup at Poznan, Poland. Can we expect such a champagne stuff tomorrow? Le us wait.

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