South Korean strikes spoil Indian run
Dingko falls on low day
Shakti Singh drawn in tough group
Bagan drub Nepal XI
Zamorano may play in India
Chauhan tipped as manager
Today�s card postponed
Royal Triumph lifts trophy

Sydney, Sept. 21: 

The Indians probably deserve all what they get at these Games. There is an aura of invincibility in their attitude, and when a slip comes, it looks so disastrously out of place.

There remains no explanation either.

At the State Sports Centre this morning, clear, albeit cold following a quick drizzle, India stood bare at the end of two session of hockey, as South Korea won 2-0.

Thank goodness for Australia drawing with Spain 2-2 and for Poland and Argentina sharing an unusual ten goals, India are still in with a chance as good as any.

This, too, has no explanation.

All teams in pool B have now completed three games each, and Australia and Korea are leading the pack with five points each but the hosts ahead on better goal differential. India and Poland follow at four points each (India ahead with a better goal differential) with Argentina and Spain (in that order) in tow on two points each. Korea still have to play Australia, and that is probably what has the Indians in a good mood. The Aussies should win, they feel.

Made in India

That the Koreans are a fast and a very fit team is no secret. That their coach, Sang Ryul-Kim was trained at the NIS in Patiala in 1985-86 (�under the great coaching of Balkishen Singh and Harmek Singh and more,� as Kim put it later) is no secret either. There has to be an explanation as to why Indian technical expertise works so much better with teams from other countries.

Song Seung-Tae put the Koreans ahead in the 27 minute of the match, while Kang Keon-Wook completed the tally in the 42nd minute. India, on their part, missed three clear chances, through Mukesh Kumar, Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Dhillon, and then more from Pillay prompts. Later, the players and the coach were making rather opposite excuses in an attempt to explain.

Korea started fast and up the flank, Song and Kang pushing through almost with impunity, the pace hardly being matched by the suspect India defence. There was no great stickwork, no heady passing sequence � only the sheer determination to sprint into the D.

Somehow, every time India have tried to match the pace of the Koreans in the past, they have failed. India won in the Bangkok Asian Games because they took control quickly. Here, though, one has to accept that the defence is not working as it should.

The Koreans by then had a measure of the Indian attackers, cutting off the feeder lines from midfield. As Pillay and Mukesh and Sameer Dad waited hungry, the Indian defence was in turmoil in flash attacks. There weren�t enough men in the Indian defence at times and, when Song moved into the circle, he was not apprehended. A fine reverse-flick went between �keeper Menezes� legs.

The reverse did spark India back into action, speeding up things, but they probably underestimated the Korean stamina and pace.

There was too much talent in the Indian ranks, but too little effort in putting them to good use.

In the 41st minute, Song moved with Jude trying to narrow the ansgle. The �keeper was, though, not wide enough to opaque the boards.

Two down, the Indians raced back into the rival defence, finally punching big holes there. Srikers, though, remained goal-shy, Pillay was, in the 46th, with a clean line in the D and he missed, and Dad was quickly dispossessed in the 52nd. Ramandeep had moved up the left in aid, and there was a lot of humdrum activity. But no goal.

Coach Vasudevan Baskaran did not attend the statutory post-match press conference, despite request slips, and said later that he was �busy with official work�. That possibly allowed an insight into the team today. Pillay, Ramandeep and Baljit Dhillon did come into the conference, indicated it was probably a strategic failure.

�We tried to play the wrong way. We played fast versus Australia and tried to control the pace versus Korea, and we know they are the fittest team in the championship,� Pillay said. �Maybe, we should have stuck to proven strategies from the beginning.� Now that�s something that wouldn�t have come out of the star player had Baskaran been present.

Ramandeep said, �We did play as we could and as we do, but the difference was that, while they converted 90 per cent of the chances that came their way, we just about failed in all. We did get more chances, though.�

Pillay indicated fatigue �after the fast match versus Australia the other day� as a possible cause, but later Baskaran threw out this logic. �They may talk of exhaustion, but it was not the case. Neither was the weather, we are used to it.�

No prizes for guessing the right answer there.

That was the first match of the day and the Australia-Spain match was yet to be played. Ramandeep commented it was �difficult� for India, and Baskaran threw that out too. �Certainly not difficult, I�ll prove that,� he said with a wave as he moved on.

Korean gems

Brilliant logic came from Korean coach Kim, instead. �I know the Indian team is very strong,� he said. �I was aware of the potential of superstars Pillay and Mukesh and the dangers they pose. So we decided to cut them off from the rest of the team and concentrate on attack too. We are speedy and fit, and we used this to our advantage.�

Simple logic, used simply, utilised to the hilt. Then, as if conspiratorially, Kim said: �And my training at the NIS was invaluable, I learned so many things in Patiala, I will not forget the great coaches. Indian hockey training is great.�

It prompted a British official standing nearby to comment: �Let�s send our coaches to India as well. We will probably beat them then.� That is the problem with tech export.    

Sydney, Sept. 21: 
A low day for India at the Olympic Games. The hockey team disappointed, a star boxer fell by the wayside and Anees Imtiaz, in the three-day cross-country equestrian event, was 25th.

Pugilist Jitender Kumar, who had a great 75kg first-round win, will meet Romania�s Adrian Diaconu in the second round tomorrow. This will be the real test for Jitender as Diaconu is the 1999 World Championship runner-up in 71kg with more laurels before that.

Jitender�s recent form might be one of his advantages, apart from his height (he is six-foot-three against Diaconu�s five-foot-nine), as also the fact that Diaconu has moved up one slot in the weight category.

It will also be a major test for the star Indian tennis duo, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi tomorrow, taking on Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. That will be in the evening, after India�s women take to the court.

India�s 54kg boxing star Ngangom Dingko Singh, Asian Games gold medallist, waited too long to charge at his Ukrainian opponent Serguey Daniltchenko and lost 5-14, three of those points scored in the final round.

The two were guards up for long, probing in quick, close tussles. Dingko was the first to drop guard, probably to invite the punch that would open the Ukrainian. The result was not a happy one for the Indian as Serguey produced a couple of jabs and yet kept his guard intact. It was time for Dingko to charge, but he just did not, allowing those early doubts about his fitness to surface yet again.

The round was over with Dingko not having landed any worthwhile scoring punch and Serguey was leading 3-0. That was a bad enough start, but Dingko remained too cautious and slow in the second as well. He did not show the necessary aggression and was once warned for holding. Serguey was not willing to wait. He threw those scoring jabs, combination of left and right, and Dingko�s round-houses did not quite affect the scoring pattern. The hits that the Indian scored were through errors in Serguey�s stance. By the end of the second round Serguey was leading 9-2.

No more points came for Serguey through a flurry of five punches, before Dingko rushed out and attacked more of the head and less of the body. This aggression was too late, and despite Dingko�s late scoring punches, Serguey was way ahead and still scoring.    

Sydney, Sept. 21: 
The Games of the XVII Olympiad will, tomorrow, move into top gear with the start of the athletics events. This is the sport that has invoked awe and inspiration in minds all over the world, and this is also the discipline known as the �mother of all sports.�

The beginning of the new millennium Olympics surely had to be as extraordinary as possible, with enigmatic 200m, 400m champion French woman reportedly having �fled� Sydney because of so-called �threats�. Her name, though, still features in Heat 5 of the women�s 400m tomorrow at 7.48pm, scheduled or lane 3.

Incidentally, that is only a couple of heats before India�s K.M. Beenamol takes to the track in the same event, in heat 7, at 8 pm local time. India�s athletes, having cheered the hockey stars and the tennis stars for so long, finally get down to business tomorrow. Apart from Beenamol, India will be featured in the men shot put qualifying, the men�s 400m qualifying, and the men�s javelin qualifying.

Shakti Singh will be in Group A for qualification. Shakti�s personal best of 20.60 is not too off the canvas in this group of 19 athletes, where the highest personal best is 22.12m, by Adam Nelson of the US. John Godin of the US is the second best here, at 22.02. There are a couple in the 21m bracket and a total of 12 in the 20m bracket, with two in the 19m bracket. India�s other shot putter, Bahadur Singh, is in group B qualifiers. His personal best is 20.01m and 17 of the 18 athletes in this group are in the 20m bracket with one in the 19m bracket. There is no athlete here above that.

For the men�s 400m, India�s on-off quarter-miler Paramjit Singh features in the sixth heat. If Singh�s personal best of 45.56s look good back home, this heat itself has three athletes running with personal bests in the 45 second category, but under Singh�s best time. There are two in the 44 second category� Davian Clark of Jamaica (44.87) and Alvin Harrison of the US (44.07). The great Michael Johnson of the US, world and Olympics record holder, runs in the next heat of this event.

In the men�s javelin throw qualifying, India�s Jagdih Bishnoi is in Group A of qualifiers. In this 18-strong group, Jagdish, with a personal best of 79.68m, is led by Dariusz Trafaz of Poland, whose personal best has been 83.40m. The Olympic record stands in the arm of the great Jan Zelzny of the Czech Republic at 89.66m.

The men�s 100m qualifiers also start tomorrow. Chef-de-mission Ashok Mattoo says P. Anil Kumar will run, though his name is yet to figure in any update.    

Calcutta, Sept. 21: 
Mohun Bagan thrashed Nepal XI 3-1 at home today, thus inching closer to the final of the 16th All Airlines Gold Cup football tournament.

The Calcutta giants, who drew 1-1 against Tollygunge Agragami in their opening match, looked determined to earn full points. R.C. Prakash opened the scoring for the home team in the 20th minute and minutes later, Brazilian Santos doubled the lead. A Lolendra Singh shot went off a defender�s leg. Nilanjan Roy Majhi pulled one back for the visitors. All four goals were scored in the first half.

Calcutta League

In group A relegation action, Aryan rode Gouranga Dutta�s hattrick to a 4-1 win over Railway FC. CFC beat Md AC 1-0 and City AC beat Rajasthan 2-0.    


Calcutta, Sept. 21:

Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano will play in the Millennium Super Soccer Cup to be held in India from January 10-25, provided he is cleared by his Italian club Inter Milan.

Disclosing plans of the 16-team mega event, organisers AIFF and event managers Studio 2100 showed a taped message from the Chilean captain, currently playing in the Olympics.

�I�ll be there with my team, in Calcutta, the city of Mother Teresa. I wish all success to the tournament,� read the English translation of what Zamorano said in Spanish.

Fifteen teams, including India, have confirmed participation and efforts are on to rope in two European teams, it was announced. If two Europeans teams do take part, one team from the 15 will be excluded. Details of the teams, however, will be declared next month.

Chile, Uruguay (B team), Jordan and Colombia, however, are certain to be there, it was announced. The AIFF president added Jamaica have promised to send the World Cup team.

The teams will be divided in four groups and two from each will make it to the quarters. Group A and B matches will be played in Calcutta, Group C and D matches in Goa and Kochi, respectively. Calcutta will also host the semi-finals and the final.

The AIFF president said that Cameroon�s 1990 World Cup star Roger Milla will be present at the next media conference and the event managers added they are trying to invite Michel Platini and Pele as well.

THE TEAMS TO HAVE CONFIRMED PARTICIPATION: (Fifa rankings in parentheses): Colombia (17), South Africa (20), Chile (22), Trinidad and Tobago (29), Cameroon (33), Uruguay (36), Jamaica (46), Japan (48), Uzbekistan (64), Iraq (87), Qatar (92), New Zealand (96), Jordan (101), India (115).

EUROPEAN TEAMS UNDER NEGOTIATION: Czech Republic (4), Portugal (7), The Netherlands (8), Yugoslavia (10), Germany (11), Turkey (30), Greece (32), Bulgaria (52).    

Calcutta, Sept. 21: 
The (stand-in) coach is in place. The squad, too, has been announced �- no surprises there. Now, the suspense is only over who will be India�s manager in Nairobi (the October 3-15 mini-World Cup).

According to The Telegraph�s sources, former opener and national selector Chetan Chauhan (also a two-time MP) has emerged frontrunner. �A gentleman each from South and West are lobbying hard... Indications, though, are the job will go to North�s Chauhan,� remarked one of the well-placed sources.

Should Chauhan get the Board�s call, the core of the team management will be packed with openers: Captain Sourav Ganguly, coach Aunshuman Gaekwad and Chauhan.

An announcement is expected in a couple of days.

Barring the odd exception, for example Brijesh Patel during the last World Cup, the managership is usually a reward only for aligning with the ruling group within the Board.

Invariably, then, it goes to non-cricketers. And, over the years, some have proved to be big embarrassments.

Of course, at times, the managership also takes the shape of an �inducement�. Specifically, then, the ruling group �targets� fence-sitters.

This isn�t how the Board should be going about an important appointment but, sadly, that�s been the tradition.

Now, however, the Board has to address matters professionally.

After all, the Nairobi meet will see the start of a stringent Code of Conduct and it will help if somebody more than just superficially involved with cricket (as most managers have, in the past, been) gets the job. Actually, Nairobi-onwards, the profile of the Indian manager will change. Things won�t only be different for the cricketers.

While the Board needs to be lauded for shortlisting somebody as respected as Chauhan, it will do even better by doing away with ad-hoc appointments.

Even if we don�t have to follow the Australian model (Stephen Bernard, for instance, has a three-year contract), we could do a Pakistan: Brig. (retd) Khwaja Mohammed Nasir has been manager from January.

The continuity-factor has been appreciated by Australia and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Indian squad leaves for Nairobi on the morning of September 27. As of now, two practice games have been planned. The India vs Kenya match, on October 3, will launch the tournament.    

Mysore, Sept. 21: 
In view of the expected bundh in the city, tomorrow�s races have been postponed to Saturday morning. First race will start at 10.15 am.Our Calcutta Turf Correspondent adds: The Mysore inter-state betting on Saturday morning will be conducted in Calcutta. It will be followed by the Pune inter-venue in the afternoon.    

The Puttanna-trained Royal Triumph claimed the Bakshi Arepur Basappaji Urs Memorial Gold Cup in Mysore on Thursday.

Results (with inter-state dividends)

1. Jaganmohana Palace Plate 1,600m: (1-3-5) Ghunghat (Hesnain) 1; Special Quest 2; River Dale 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 3; (1--47). Tote: Win Rs 187; Place: 38; 12; 18; Quinella: 325; Tanala: 4,112. Fav: Sovereign Steel (8).

2. Shimsha Plate 1,200m: (2-10-7) Kilkemny (Afsar) 1; Goldeneye 2; Royal Philosopher 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1/2; (1-19). Tote: Win Rs 564; Place: 60; 29; 11; Quinella: 1,089; Tanala: 37,520 (C.o). Fav: Royal Philosopher (7).

3. T. Dougall Memorial Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (8-1-5) Silver Touch (I. Chisty) 1; Silk Petals 2; Nearco Prince 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4; (1-31.6). Tote: Win Rs 40; Place: 17; 18; 41; Quinella: 97; Tanala: 1,381. Fav: Wakonda (2).

4. Bookmakers Gold Trophy, Div-II 1,400m: (1-5-8) Set Aside (Shroff) 1; Soviet Bay 2; Ride With Pride 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 6-1/2; (1-29.4). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 15; 26; 15; Quinella: 115; Tanala: 542. Fav: Royal Emperor (2).

5. T. Dougall Memorial Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (6-2-8) Open Arms (Thameem) 1; Casino Ace 2; Squeeze 3. Not run: National Star (4) & Decision Maker (5). Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-33). Tote: Win Rs 220; Place: 44; 11; 28; Quinella: 199; Tanala: 5,081. Fav: Casino Ace (2).

6. Bookmakers Gold Trophy, Div-I 1,400m: (1-4-7) Avocation (Shroff) 1; Queen�s Ransom 2; Lady Chesterford 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 16; 47; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 544. Fav: Avocation (1).

7. Bakshi Arepur Basappaji Urs Memorial Gold Cup 1,400m: (4-12-16) Royal Triumph (Srinath) 1; Our Pedestal 2; Something Fishy 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-30.4). Tote: Win Rs 54; Place: 18; 34; 74; Quinella: 354; Tanala: 13,511. Fav: Royal Triumph (4).

8. Coorg Plate 1,800m: (1-6-5) Harry The Horse (Appu) 1; Paris Lights 2; Ammeter 3. Not run: Snorter (7) & Daiimio (10). Won by: 1-1/4; 3; (1-59.2). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 14; 47; 12; Quienlla: 397; Tanala: 1,090. Fav: Ammeter (5).

9. Alberetto Plate 1,600m: (2-7-10) Atomic Fusion (Appu) 1; Red Cordon 2; Argyle Gold 3. Won by: 1/2; 5; (1-47.2). Tote: Win Rs 177; Place: 35; 15; 15; Quinella: 186; Tanala: 1,054. Fav: Red Cordeon (7).

Jackpot: Rs 82,572 (Carried over); (C) Rs 3,539.

Treble: (i) Rs 24,870 (C.o); (ii) Rs 2,001.    


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