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India held 1-1 by Safrica, World Cup hopes over

Written by: Staff

Monchengladbach, Sep 9 (UNI) A disoriented India's cup of woes was full to the brim after they frittered away the lead and drew with lowly South Africa 1-1 to crash out of contention in the hockey World Cup here today.

India led 1-0 at half time.

The Indians were lucky to survive the last five minutes of African assault, otherwise they would have finished without a point.

With this draw, India now have only one point in their kitty from three outings and going by their performance so far, they might as well end playing for the nine to 12th placing.

Today's draw ended whatever hope coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran might have entertained of his team making it to the last four. It was a shameful display of spineless hockey by the Indians.

The two teams were playing against each other after a gap of six months. The last time they faced each other was in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games where India won 2-0.

For the Indians, Ignace Tirkey scored in the 14th minute and South Africa equalised through Ian Symons who converted a penalty corner in the 63rd minute.

The African champions forced three penalty corners while the Indians could manage only one.

The Indians dominated the first half as they had more share of the ball but the forwards lacked the dash and spark and there was no thrust, no sharpness in their moves. The Indians had some good chances and couple of half chances but they could not make use of them. At this level of competition, a team can not afford to miss half chances, let alone the clear openings, but the Indians turned out to be flat-footed and hardly posed any danger to the rivals despite having major share of the ball.

There was total lack of cohesion in the Indian forward line and that added pressure on the midfield. Ignace, Prabodh Tirkey, Arjun Halappa did try to bolster the attack but poor finishing put paid to all their efforts.

The Indians never looked convincing. Their body language was poor, their attitude was wayward and towards the end it looked as they were just going through the motions.

Bhaskaran's brave words, after the second match -- that there were still three matches and nine points to fight for -- apparently had no impact on his players as they did not even play for the pride.

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