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2001 PM Gold Cup: India defeat Egypt in the Semis (3/21/2001)
--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.

BEWARE IF SOHAIL

SOAHAIL ABBAS WOULD MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING FOR EITHER SIDE

It would have been different story for the Pakis had not they scored the equaliser when hardly 20 seconds left for the hooter in its league match against Malaysia in the Sydney Olympics. Pakistan reached the semi-final thereafter but the man they mosted relied to go that far was none other than Sohail Abbas, a new messaih in the shooting circle. He posted that goal through a patented guile in the set piece drill thereby dousing the spirit of Malaysians. It was not an isolated occasion that Abbas retrieved Pak from depth of despair to height of glory.

The dreaded penalty corner shooter is Pakistan's one man army. He revived Pakis fortune ever since he made the senior grade against visiting India in 1998 at Peshawar. Be it the last Asia Cup, or Sultan Azlan Cup, he was the top scorer. At Sydney Olympics, he came second behind Argie's Jorge Lombi. His tally was solid ten goals.

When he is around, Pakistan's defeat cannot be ensured till the last second of the field play. With lethal scoops that vary in flight and force in every attempt, his stick is always laden with a goal.

If India is to win the Cup at Dhaka, they have to devise ways and means to keep the hawk at bay. This can be done if penalty corners are not given away. They defenders have to exercise extra caution not to concede the award the pakis likes most when Abbas is around.

However, Indians have been in the wonted habit of conceding penalty corners. This will give adequate avenue for the Peshawar petrel to perforate India at the National Stadium, Dhaka in the final slated for Tuesday.

Even otherwise, India's penalty corner defence is not something their strength. Goalkeeper Jude Menezes have often been found charging too early thereby leaving empty cage behind. This happened many times in the recent past and such lacuna would be a godsend for shrewd Sohail as he is not only good at scoop but also in carpet drives and indirect manoeuvres.

Coach Cedric D'Souza's arrival before the semi-final seemed to have infused the Indians to do better as is evident from the tournament's highest score they managed - eight nil in the semi-final against Egypt. Pakistan could manage only four goals against Egypt in its pool and Egypt too managed to score twice. For Cedric, it's first occasion to face Pakistan with Abbas in its rank. He has call upon all his consumate skills to see that he is thwarted in the set-piece drills.

Certainly, Cedric's India had given very good results against Pakistan. At Chennai, India posted a memorable 5-3 victory in the SAF Games, a draw at Atlanta Olympics and a 1-0 defeat in the 1995 berlin Champions Trophy.

Let us hope he does a SAF again. For this one man he should focus is Sohail Abbas, who narrowly missed the FIH Player of the Year Award this year to Stephan Veen.

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