Semifinal would be a good result for India: Ashok Kumar
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010, 17:56
  
New Delhi: Member of India's lone World Cup winning team Ashok Kumar doesn't expect miracles from the current team under Rajpal Singh and feels reaching the semifinals would be a decent result for them.

"We will have the home advantage and I am hoping that we can finish at the podium or at least reach the semifinals. That would be a good result for the country," Ashok told reporters.

Even that would not be a stroll in the park for the Indian team and Ashok, who scored India's winning score in the 1975 World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur, said the current team lacks match-winners and the players themselves lack killer instinct.

"There are few good players in the current squad, as compared to our days. We had stalwarts like Ajit Pal Singh, B P Govinda, Surjeet Singh, Harcharan Singh, myself and many others who were match-winners. There are not many such players among the current players," Ashok, son of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand, said.

"Moreover, the current players lack the killer instinct. I don't know the reason why. It may be due to lack of emotional attachment of the game in general," he said. Ashok, who was a member of all the three Indian World Cup teams which won a bronze (1971), silver (1973) and gold (1975), said India and Pakistan were unlucky to have to face each other on the opening day on Sunday.

"I anticipate it would be a great match between India and Pakistan as it has been always in the past, showing all the artistry of Asian style of hockey. But it is unfortunate that they are playing each other in the first match of their pool.”

"Whichever team loses on Sunday, it will be difficult for them to make it to the semifinals as they have to play Australia, England and Spain who are strong sides. It would have been better if India face Pakistan after playing one or two European sides. I hope India win against Pakistan," he said.

Ashok, who played for India in four World Cups and two Olympic Games, felt strongly for revival of hockey ties between India and Pakistan. He also said that the avid fans of the game still follow India-Pakistan matches with emotional attachment.

"Nowadays, the matches between the two countries are few and far between. In our days it was a huge occasion for the people of both the countries. Even now the core hockey fans still follow the matches with the same passion," he said.

Ashok recalled that even after the 1971 war between the two countries, the Indian players got a warm reception when they toured Pakistan in 1974.

"It was a wonderful feeling. When we went to Pakistan in 1974 after the bitter 1971 war, we were given a huge reception there. I realised how much the Indian players were respected in Pakistan and the passion of the game in that country," he said.

Ashok also said that there was no bitter feeling among Pakistani players in Kuala Lumpur after his controversial goal gave India their only World Cup title in 1975.

In the dying moments of that final match with the two sides at 1-1, Ashok's shot hit inside of the post and the Malaysian referee awarded a goal ruling that ball had crossed the goal-line and the Pakistanis protested vehemently.

"It was a World Cup final match. The stake was high and any team would have protested in those circumstances. That is nothing unusual," said Ashok.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, February 25, 2010, 17:56


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