Even in win, Scolari’s problems persist
Four 75s fetch Jeev 62nd spot
In The City

June 17: 
It was a different Brazil than what we had seen in the earlier matches. This was a team curbing all its attacking instincts, circumspect and perhaps, the one coach Luiz Felipe Scolari wants to see. With caution turning out to be the watchword in this World Cup, Scolari’s view can’t be questioned, but he shouldn’t be flattered with what he saw. Even with Rivaldo scoring with a gem of a volley. He shouldn’t be too proud of one of his substitutions either.

Scolari’s philosophy is the omission of thrills and frills with focus on defensive organisation. He knows the gift of Ronaldo and Rivaldo can work wonders but down below, there are pockets of deep concern. The tie against Belgium was his chance to check the defensive organs against a European team of pedigree. The 2-0 win earned him a ticket to the quarters and reaffirmed what exactly his privileges and problems are.

Belgium started with a bold plan. They bottled up Ronaldo and went for an early goal. They had confidence in their rearguard mechanisms and thought Brazil could be frustrated if they got the first break. The holes in the defence, despite Scolari’s Brazil were trying to crowd the place, encouraged Belgium and they started believing it was worth a try. This belief turned into relentless probing in the second half and Brazil stayed alive largely due to the surprise heroics of goalkeeper Marcos.

There were many moments of serious tension at the Brazilian goalmouth before and after they had scored the first and apart from anything else, confidence seemed to be at a premium. The clearances almost always found the opponent players, there were too many incorrect passes in the defensive zone and the defensive midfielders were easily dispossessed. Belgium, clearly, functioned better as a team and were unlucky to see a goal disallowed in the 36th minute. Marc Wilmots’ leap above his marker looked clean, and this was not the only occasion when the Brazilian defence was taken over in the aerial battle.

If this was a key moment of the match, another such came when Scolari brought in Denilson for Juninho. The substitute failed to create even one opening from the left and Juninho’s absence broadened the hole in midfield. Belgium took control of a vast area of the pitch inside the Brazilian half and action in front of their goalmouth intensified. This should bother Scolari. He got enough men behind with Ronaldo being the lone man up front, but still, failed to contain the Belgians.

What separated Brazil from Belgium and continues to be the coach’s bank of faith were the touches of rare quality shown by Ronaldo and Rivaldo. The injury-plagued striker is looking better with each game and there were glimpses of his ability to finish with one lethal touch.

Ronaldinho looks good to complete the attacking trio and rather than having a fourth attacker in Denilson, somebody capable of playing the spoiler in midfield seems to be a wiser bet.

Earlier, the US proved once again that dearth in talent can be overcome by tactical wisdom and determination to eliminate Mexico.

The US boast of a bunch of fit and athletic players and the coach knows exactly what his team’s limitations are.

Bruce Arena’s men didn’t try anything extraordinary, played to their strength by keeping the defence-midfield combination tight and their conversion rate on the counterattacks once again made the difference.

There was never a hint of doubt over Mexico’s territorial supremacy and better ball possession percentage, but for the umpteenth time in this World Cup, all that resulted in zilch.

The Mexico coach erred by setting a pace that was too fast to sustain and despite witnessing its futility in the first half, didn’t alter his plan after the break. He also erred by exposing all his cards too early. The result, hence, was quite obvious.


Calcutta, June 17: 
Ace Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh’s debut shot at the US Open has been bitter-sweet. In the final round Sunday he again shot a 75, his fourth successive five over round, as windy conditions continued till the last day of the 102nd edition of the Open. Jeev ended tied at 62nd place.

On a day when Tiger Woods won his seventh title in last 11 major appearances, the ace Indian played a battling round under tough conditions at the par-70 Bethpage Black Course, Farmingdale, New York, according to information reaching here.

With just three players breaking par, Jeev often had the large gallery in raptures with his exquisite putting and magic around the greens. Jeev’s performance was creditable, given he had qualified for it for the first time. Also, he made history by making the cut.

“I tried to attack on every possible hole, which is actually not the best of ideas on a course like the Bethpage Black. I kept telling myself that I had nothing to lose,” he said.

The biggest factor inhibiting scoring on a day when the sun peeked out for the first time in three days, was the swirling wind. It was so windy that some players had to wear their caps backwards to prevent them from flying off.

“Playing the US Open was a great learning experience. I surely could have done much better than what finally did, but I will take it happily,” he added.

Jeev started with a bogey when he hit his drive into the rough on the opening hole. On the very next hole, he holed a 12-footer birdie putt to pull back the score to even. On the par-5 fourth, Jeev found the fairway bunker with his drive and pulled what was a difficult bunker shot into deep rough on the left. With the ball lost in the tall grass, Jeev took a mighty swipe to miraculously bring the ball back in play and then made his up-and-down from the front bunker to make a fine par.

On the fifth, Jeev almost dropped in an 18-footer for birdie. The seventh proved to be Jeev’s nemesis once again as he made a double bogey after missing the fairway with his drive. Another bogey on the ninth, where he drove to the trees on the right, saw him making the turn at three-over.

On the back nine, Jeev made bogeys on the 12th and 15th, before almost holing in a 30-footer for birdie on the 17th.

Woods fired a closing 72 to win by three shots, becoming the first player since Jack Nicklaus, in 1972, to win the first two majors of the year, adds Reuters.

The US Masters champion, who began four strokes clear of the field, bounced back from a faltering start and could afford to bogey two of his last three holes as he finished at three-under-par 277.

The 26-year-old American recovered from three-putt bogeys at the first and second with birdies at the seventh and 13th to hold off the last-day challenge of Phil Mickelson. Mickelson finished second on 280. Jeff Maggert took third place, while Sergio Garcia was fourth.


June 17: 

Rakesh Gupta wins

Rakesh Gupta won the YMCA handicap snooker championship held at the YMCA, Chowringhee branch Monday. In the finals, he steamrolled Miraj Alam 1042-72. Gupta won a booty of Rs 3000 while Alam Rs 1,500. Earlier, in the semi-final, Gupta beat Sanjeev Sahai 93-87 while Alam outclassed Rahul Hodkhasa 82-75.

BCCI meetings

The working committee meeting of the BCCI will be held in Calcutta on Wednesday and Thursday. The finance and the marketing committee of the Board will also meet on Tuesday. The top brass of the BCCI, including president Jagmohan Dalmiya and secretary Niranjan Shah will be present.

CLT table tennis

Sreya Ghosh and Gargi Nag moved into the finals of the cadet girls’ category in the CLT table tennis tournament at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra Monday. In the semi-finals, Sreya beat Rumpa Sarkar 11-9, 11-4 while Gargi defeated Mita Basak 11-9, 13-11.


TABLE TENNIS: CLT championships at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra from 1.30 pm.    

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