Asia rues hockey flop

NEW DELHI - Former Olympians and coaches yesterday lamented the poor showing by Asian teams at the men's field hockey World Cup, saying Europe and Australia were now the masters of the game.

NEW DELHI - Former Olympians and coaches yesterday lamented the poor showing by Asian teams at the men's field hockey World Cup, saying Europe and Australia were now the masters of the game.

None of the three Asian teams in the 12-nation tournament - South Korea, India and Pakistan - qualified for today's semis. This is the first time since 1998 the continent will not be represen- ted in the knockout stage.

Defending champions Germany, seeking a hat-trick of titles to add to their Beijing Olympic gold medal, face England, and Australia clash with the Netherlands for a place in the final.

"It is quite deplorable how Asian standards have fallen," former India great Balbir Singh, 85, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, told AFP.

"It is going to be a huge challenge to counter the Europeans and Australians and I don't see that happening in the near future."

India, who qualified for the World Cup only by virtue of being the hosts, will fight for seventh position with Argentina tomorrow, an improvement from their 11th-place finish in the last World Cup in 2006.

Asian champions South Korea narrowly failed to qualify for the semifinals after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in their last league match on Tuesday. - Sapa-AFP

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