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India-South Africa in historical perspective (1/14/2012)
--K. Arumugam
When South Africa will engage Indian men on Monday, it would mark the third test series between the two continental powers.

The last series was played 13 years ago when present Assistant Coach Md. Riaz led India in a 4-match series in the run up to Sydney Olympics.

However, the India-Africa contact started brightly on the back of sound history.

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It happened 18 winters ago. It was in the fitness of things that India, South Africa’s staunch ally in its fight against Apartheid, was the first hockey nation to tour them just couple of months after the Apartheid was lifted, and the world sports was allowed to embrace Nelson Mandela’s new nation.

Africans too returned the gesture in good measure, visiting India once in next three years.

In 1993 when India visited Africa first, the Indian hockey was in turmoil, having fared poorly in the Barcelona Olympics, and the Indian Hockey Federation has decided to suspend the likes of Pargat Singhs on disciplinary ground.

After much dithering, a novice Zafar Iqbal – till then he was not even coach of any domestic team -- was asked to coach our national team, and in the absence of seniors, Shakeel Ahmad Khan was catapulted to the captaincy.

So, when cricket made headlines what with apartheid free South Africa making its first international matches against Indian on the Indian soils, hockey made its own history being the first hockey country to visit South Africa.

Expectedly, India romped home the 5-match test series 4-1. The point of note was the home side’s win at Port of Elizabeth (0-1). A new nation to hockey could manage to defeat India in a test, and that was not a freak one, as later events proved.

undefined A year later at the Sydney World Cup, India could manage only a draw against them, which inter alia led India to the fifth spot denying them a semifinal chance. Indeed India was lucky to draw them with a penalty corner conversion from Anil Aldrin just when four minutes left for the famous Africans victory.

This country always proved a tough nut for India and it is well manifest in the World Cup.

India could only draw South Africa in three World Cups.

Sydney (1994): 2-2
Monchengladbach: (2006) 1-1
New Delhi (2010): 3-3

South Africa first visited India in 1994, returned with the Silver in the Lucknow Indira Gandhi International Gold Cup. Robert Pullen, who later coached the national side, pulled out so many goals; was joint-top scorer with Dhanraj Pillay. Alistair Fredrics was the first non-white hockey international, played well.

They came again in 1995 for same Indira Gold Cup. It was a brilliant side. It was on the other pool, did not engage India.

Their third and last visit was in 1996 when India beat them 3-0 to win the Chief Minister Cup in Chennai.

The 2012 is the third test between the two, and fourth visit of the Africans to India.

African men nowadays are not what they used to be in the 90s, and are somewhat running on a weak phase. That India scored four goals in the second half after both were 3-3 at one point in the recent Champions Challenge I is a proof. Earlier in the pool too India overcame them easily (4-2).

However, it is worthwhile to recollect the first Champions Challenge Cup (2001). Led by Baljit Singh Dhillon and trained by Cedric D’souza, India won them 2-1 in the final to earn a berth for the 2002 Champions Trophy. It was a tough match indeed in Kuala Lumpur.

At the same time, it is also interesting to recall the scenario of 1999. Coach Baskaran was just recalled to the hot seat, after Harcharan Singh was shown the doors after a token tour. India drew two matches and lost three, returned without a token win.

Therefore, it is time for the then captain Md. Riaz to return the same in the company of his senior coach Michael Nobbs.

Though India and South Africa were meeting frequently in the 90s, it has drastically came down later. For instance, they have met only 13 times since 2001 out of which India lost only once, while winning 8. Others are drawn.

2001 Champions Challenge Cup 2-2
2001 Champions Challenge Cup 2-1 (Final)
2004 HA Challenge Cup 6-4
2004 HA Challenge Cup 4-3
2004 HA Challenge Cup 0-1
2004 Olympics 4-2
2005 Azlan Shah Cup 2-1
2006 Commonwealth Games 2-0
2006 World Cup 1-1
2006 World Cup 1-0
2010 World Cup 3-3
2011 Champions Challenge Cup 4-2
2011 Champions Challenge Cup 7-4

Picture caption:

Top: Alistar Frederics, the first non-white international hockey player, was part of SA team that visited India in 1994,95 and 1996.
Middle: SA team in Chennai in 1996.

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Head to head records
by Vishwajyoti Bhattach on 1/19/2012 9:44:24 PM
Thanks for the information and statistics. Is there any link or website available to know India's head to head record against other countries.
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