Don't write team off: Tirkey

Indian captain Dilip Tirkey today promised to fight back into contention in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Indian captain Dilip Tirkey today promised to fight back into contention in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, after a 0-4 loss against Spain. Spain pumped in all the goals in the second half to win the match quite comprehensively at the National Stadium. But Tirkey said it was too early to write his team off. "This is a young team which has shown its skill in the Test series against Pakistan and Spain. Yes, we have lost the first match, but it would be too early to dismiss us. We have still several matches to go and I am sure my boys will fight back," Tirkey said. Goofed up chances The captain claimed his side lost its lung opener because it goofed up the chances that came its way and also committed defensive blunders. "Missing chances has been an old problem with us. We paid the price for the lapses," he said. India's chief coach Gerhard Rach agreed with the captain when he said that India should have scored in the first half itself which could have put some pressure on the Spaniards. "We should have scored in the first half. But they managed to hold us. Spain is such a side that it plays its best in the second half and they did exactly the same here," Rach said. Disallowed goal The coach, however, was not ready to blame the umpires who disallowed an Indian goal when Spain was leading 2-0 and then awarded a penalty stroke to the Europeans which was converted by Santiago Freixa. "Had our goal been allowed, the scoreline would have been 2-1. Or it could have been different. But we are not going to blame the umpire as we conceded as many as four goals," he added. In an obvious reference to Dilip Tirkey, Rach said even the "best defender" in the side had an ordinary outing today. Rach declined to comment when asked whether India were missing the services of prolific scorer Gagan Ajit Singh in this elite six-nation tournament. Spanish coach Maurits Hendriks said he could not have asked for a better start to the competition. "We were not playing in a rhythm in the first half but found our feet on the turf after the break. A couple of young players, who are playing a major tournament for the first time, showed fine skills and I am quite happy about their performance." Spanish captain Juan Escarre said: "We are more confident after the win. But we have a long way to go as the teams in fray are quite strong". (PTI)