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2008 Azlan Shah Cup
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India goes down, valiantly (4/22/2008)
--K.Arumugam
India was spectacular, but the Belgians were purposeful. On Day three here in Kazan, if after 70 minutes of exciting game the Indian forwards went heads down, it was because they messed up the things. Despite leading 2-1 at halftime, India lost the crucial third match 2-3 to Belgium.

Our girls enthralled the sparse crowd, most of which was Indian students studying medicine here, but it was the European side that obtained the points.

India had everything in its favour, the climate, the crowd support etc etc. To be fair enough, the team appeared determined to prove their class. Brigning in the winger Saba Anjum in place of Deepika worked to some extent. There was a freshness in the approach -- the girls were on the attack mode ab initio. Despite a momentary lapse that led to the first minute goal, Indians pounded the Belgian citadel relentlessly. As Netherlands Antilles coach later would admit, India dominated the same way they did against Netherlands Antilles, but those spurts and specks of attacks and the accrued benefits were frittered away by the forwards. Be it Surinder Kaur or Jasjeet Kaur, or later Ranjita, all wasted the opportunites like a millionaire.

It is further pathetic to witness, Indians lack of precision in the penalty corners. India got exactly a dozen of them, except the fifth one all others were not utilized, five of them went abegging because of faulty stopping and barring two, which came very close, others were wayward in direction. Both Suman and Jajeet are anything but alarming. Great amount of accoloades are due for the Belgian defenders who withstood such a flurry of attack, and provided enough space for the forwards to to do the rest.

It is a matter of concern again how with fewer chances the rivals, be it Netherlands Antilles or Belgium today, made the scoreboard ticking, while with far better attack and outnumbering in chances, India loses out again and again.

Considering the way India played today they certainly deserved at least a draw, which would have kept them entitled for a place in the final. That chance still exisits, theoritically, though.

If India wins the both matches (Vs USA and France), and Belgium or Netherland one, then the goal average can take India to the final.

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