Talking Tactics/ Argentina dazzle; England fade out
In The City
Bangalore Races/ Snow Dew lifts main event

June 2: 
The peso may have nose-dived following the economic crisis in Argentina, but they have come to the World Cup rich in talent. The dazzling repertoire was almost in full flow in Sundayís opening game in the Group of Death and they promised a lot more.

England, in contrast, faded after a bright start and the 1-1 draw against Sweden must have left Sven-Goran Eriksson in some discomfort.

Argentinaís 1-0 win over Nigeria is the most convincing start made by a top team in this World Cup so far and the scoreline hides the many moments of tension in the African goalmouth. The same can hardly be said of England who were fortunate to survive two close calls after letting in the equaliser. There was little to choose between England and Sweden, and a three-way fight between these two and Nigeria for the second place from this group seems likely.

Argentina started in great pace and didnít need too many passes to reach the danger zone ó a clear indication of the silken touch that many of their players possess. They took no time in putting the rival defence under pressure and swept into the Nigerian half with as many as seven-eight men. They also had three-four, often five, players lurking around the Nigerian box during the raids and their midfielders were battling for possession even inside the rival half.

Most of their players looked fresh, focussed and technically well accomplished. It was a delight to see the sharpness in their dribbling, trapping and turning. Nigeria wisely understood one lapse in concentration would open the floodgates and used their build and height to good effect to keep Argentina at bay for as long as they did. But this kept them from going on the counter with too many players, which helped Argentina retain numerical superiority in the defensive zone.

Ariel Ortega, perhaps the best dribbler in the world at the moment, was winning most of the one-to-one exchanges and with constant support from Juan Pablo Sorin and Javier Zanetti, ensured adequate supply for the centre-forwards. But the brain behind the stream of Argentine attacks was Juan Sebastian Veron. With a right-footer as accurate as dart, this midfielder also has vision, which makes him the ideal man to lead a bunch of supremely talented players.

Argentina were kept waiting for 63 minutes but the goal seemed imminent as they pressed constantly and would have found the mark earlier with some luck. They also had to contend with a fine performance by Nigerian goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu.

Gabriel Batistuta justified his inclusion ahead of Hernan Crespo with his tenth World Cup goal. It was a difficult chance since he had to outjump a teammate outside the far post and the angle was narrow. But Batistuta produced that bit extra which places him in an elite group.

The Argentine daggers are sharp and if they maintain Sundayís defensive discipline, there will be many more victims.

The English opening, however, was disappointing. They came into the World Cup under a lot of pressure but made a positive start and even took the lead. England looked better in the first half because they showed the urgency to move up but Sweden hardly retaliated which helped Erikssonís boys maintain numerical supremacy over a greater part of the pitch.

It changed completely when Sweden came out guns blazing after the break and the English defence committed two grave errors ó Danny Mills in the right side of the box and Ashley Cole on the right. They paid for the first while the other went unpunished. Goalkeeper David Seaman drew upon his ocean of experience to thwart Teddy Lucic who was brilliantly set up by Henrik Larsson. But for Seamanís timely save, England would have plunged into troubled waters.

David Beckham didnít show any problem in shooting but clearly avoided risky challenges. Apart from his corner which fetched the goal, he had little to show for in his 63 minutes on the pitch.

With Sweden choosing to stay deep inside their half before the break and the English midfielders moving up, Michael Owen hardly got the open space in front of him which he enjoys. When Owen did get the room in the second half with Sweden fanning out, there was nobody in the England midfield to release him through the gaps.

Darius Vassell was the revelation in the English ranks and a constant threat to defenders with his speed down the flanks but Eriksson chose to play safe and took him off in order to plug the gaps in midfield. It was the move of a worried man and Eriksson surely is one after the opener.


June 2: 

Md. Sp. hattrick

Mohammedan Sporting won the finals of the under-13, under-15 and senior categories at the All-India Pepsi Trophy organised by Brijesh Patel Academy in Bangalore on Sunday, according to information reaching here. In the under-13 final, Mohammedan Sporting beat Bangaloreís Frank Anthony Public Sc-hool by 13 runs. In the under-15 game, they beat citymates Belgachia United by 33 runs. Mohammedan Sportingís seniors beat yet another Calcutta team, Friends of the Stadium, by 43 runs.

State basketball

Burdwan will meet BBYS in the final of the 19th state junior boysí basketball meet.


FOOTBALL: Womenís League, semi-final: East Bengal vs Nabajanma Sangha (East Bengal, 3pm).    

Bangalore, June 2: 
The Ganapathy-trained Snow Dew claimed the Karnataka Cup at the Bangalore races on Sunday. B. Prakash partnered the Razeen-Snow daughter to victory.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Malakpet Stakes 1,600m: (3-5-2) Relic Hunter (Zia Akhtar) 1; Little Genny 2; Agnivarsh 3. Won by: 1; SH; (1-47.1). Tote: Win Rs 211; Place: 58; 13; 14; Quinella: 207; Shp: 40; Tanala: 2,200. Fav: Agnivarsh (2). (Note: The winner survived a double objection).

2. Melbourne Plate 1,200m: (4-3-2) Crown Ice (R. Pandey) 1; Silver Feathers 2; Rasna 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 2; (1-20.3). Tote: Win Rs 82; Place: 24; 12; 16; Quinella: 83; Shp: 33; Tanala: 611. Fav: Silver Feathers (3).

3. Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Cup 1,400m: (5-1-3) Ampersand (A. Imran) 1; Red Sand 2; Ashleen 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-31.3). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 15; 108; 22; Quinella: 1,216; Shp: 363; Tanala: 12,941. Fav: Southern Treasure (11).

4. Karnataka Cup 1,600m: (2-1-6) Snow Dew (Prakash) 1; Ansbach 2; Royal Liberator 3. Won by: 4; 1-3/4; (1-43.5). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 20; 15; Quinella: 48; Shp: 37; Tanala: 126. Fav: Royal Liberator (6).

5. Abdul Wajid Memorial Plate 1,600m: (5-7-6) Fabulous Star (Prakash) 1; Red Mamma 2; Imperious 3. Won by: 3; Nk; (1-45.9). Tote: Win Rs 48; Place: 18; 29; 18; Quinella: 233; Shp: 69; Tanala: 1,348. Fav: Pretty Move (4).

6. Fire Haven Plate 1,100m: (7-9-4) Broken Silence (I. Chisty) 1; Star Above 2; Triple X 3. Won by: SH; 3-1/2; (1-13.1). Tote: Win Rs 340; Place: 31; 17; 127; Quinella: 648; Shp: 41; Tanala: 15,111. Fav: Snow Deer (8).

7. Mammaís Mink Plate 1,600m: (6-5-1) Forest Monarch (M. Narredu) 1; Special Request 2; Gypsieís Wish 3 Not run: Caesarr (4). Won by: 2; 5-3/4; (1-45.8). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 17; 26; 21; Quinella: 285; Shp: 124; Tanala: 4,049. Fav: Circus Maid (9).

Jackpot: Rs 80,306; (C) Rs 6,340.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,514; (ii) Rs 7,165.

Footnote: Owing to paucity of acceptors the Mysore Race Club has decided to cancel the seasonís opener on Wednesday. Accordingly, RCTC will conduct the Udhagamandalam Inter-venue betting on that day.    


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