The Big-3 Blitzkrieg Continues: International Men'S Field-Hockey
Sign in

The Big-3 Blitzkrieg Continues: International men's field-hockey

 
print Print email Email
THE BIG-3 BARRIER BECOMES EVEN MORE FORMIDABLE THIS OLYMPICS

Another round of Olympic men’s hockey has come to a pass and once again, it is the same story.  The Big-3 (Aus-Ger-Nld) barrier*has become even more formidable in this tourney (going by results this far) and they have made a complete podium sweep of the Gold, Silver, and the Bronze medals.  Need one say anymore?

Once again, the Asian teams have come a cropper in front of this seemingly invincible barrier.  To start with, let us take the individual fortunes of the Asian teams: Bhaarath, Pakistan, and S. Korea. 

Bhaarath has once again dismally performed against the Big-3 in its Pool-B league matches (See Table A), losing matches to the Netherlands and Germany.  The match against Netherlands was close, but against Germany, Bhaarath was completely outclassed. Of course, Bhaarath did not play Australia by virtue of the latter being in Pool A.    But one shudders to think as to what would have been the score-line had the two met, as Australia is in red-hot form in this tournament. 

Table A: Bhaarath against the Big-3 in the 2012 Olympics

Country

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goal For

Goals Against

Goal Difference

Winning Percentage

Australia

DNP

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Germany

1

0

1

0

2

5

-3

0.00

Netherlands

1

0

1

0

2

3

-1

0.00

Total

2

0

2

0

4

8

-4

0.00

DNP = Did not play

Pakistan, grouped in Pool A in this Olympics, had just Australia in its schedule (See Table B).  And it got slam-dunked by the Aussies 0-7 in its last Pool-A engagement.  One wonders what would have been Pak’s fate, had they played the Dutch and the Germans too.  IMHO,  I can only predict a maximum of a draw for Pak against these two teams, even though Pak can be extremely dangerous on their day.

Table B: Pakistan against the Big-3 in the 2012 Olympics

Country

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goal For

Goals Against

Goal Difference

Winning Percentage

Australia

1

0

1

0

0

7

-7

0.00

Germany

DNP

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Netherlands

DNP

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Total

1

0

1

0

0

7

-7

0.00

DNP = Did not play

S. Korea, grouped in Pool-B with Bhaarath, also came up empty against the Germans and the Dutch (Did not play the Australians).    While they lost by a thin 0-1 margin to the Germans in their league fixture, they lost 2-4 to the Dutch in a crunch game; a game if they had won, could very well have carried them to the medal rounds (See Table C).

Table C: Korea against the Big-3 in the 2012 Olympics

Country

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goal For

Goals Against

Goal Difference

Winning Percentage

Australia

DNP

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Germany

1

0

1

0

0

1

-1

0.00

Netherlands

1

0

1

0

2

4

-2

0.00

Total

2

0

2

0

2

5

-3

0.00

DNP = Did not play

And finally, the important statistics of the Bhaarath-Pakistan-Korea combined against the Big-3.  Once again a dismal picture is painted, with the teams having lost all the five matches with an average goal deficit of almost 3 goals per match (See Table D).  It seems that there is no immediate end in sight of the Big-3 domination of International men’s field-hockey. Of course, Great Britain has now qualified for the medal rounds and could very well upset the Netherlands in its semifinal engagement.  But I would still put my money on the Netherlands making it to the finals.   And regarding the other semifinal match between Australia and Germany, I would bet on Australia even though the Germans could very well come through. 

Table D: Bha-Pak-Korea combined against the Big-3 in the 2012 Olympics

Country

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goal For

Goals Against

Goal Difference

Winning Percentage

Big-3

5

0

5

0

6(1.2)

20(4)

-14 (-2.8)

0.00

Figures in brackets next to the goals are the average per game.

 

At the start of the tournament, I had good hopes for South Korea, especially given the way they beat hardy NZ by a 2-0 margin.  One hoped that they would put a good fight with the Germans and the Dutch and even beat one of them.  But that was not to be. 

Pakistan once again played in their typical on-off manner that they are famous for these days and they almost qualified for the semis.  I thought that they would make a fight of their concluding Pool-A engagement against the mighty Aussies.  But, they got whopped big time in this crunch match and saw their medal hopes evaporate away.

 

As for Bhaarath, to be brutally frank, I never entertained any hopes for them going into the tournament.  Their last placed finish in Pool-B does not even come as a surprise and I wouldn’t even be shocked should they finish rank bottom 12th in the upcoming classification matches.  Why do I say this:  Bhaarath qualified for the Olympics in a C-grade qualification tournament.  IMHO, it was a pathetic lifeline or more aptly charity thrown by the FIH to our hockey by pooling us with 3rd and 4th tier teams in this qualification tourney.  Moreover, the qualification was held in Bhaarath’s own backyard.   Before this qualification tournament, Bhaarath had lost to Belgium in the finals of the Champions Challenge tournament and consequently did not qualify for the next version of the Champions Trophy, which is the benchmark tournament for the top tier teams of International men’s field-hockey today.

So where do we go from here.  This is a question even the Pakistanis and the S. Koreans need to ask themselves regarding big tournaments like the Olympics, FIH World Cup, and the Champions Trophy even though they seem to fare better than Bhaarath in these big tournaments.  For Bhaarath, the immediate future looks dismal as it once again needs to pick up the pieces and gather itself back after the severe mauling it has once again received not only by the Big-3 but also by Tier-2 teams like Belgium and NZ.  Moreover, it also lost 1-4 to its fellow Asian team, S. Korea.  (At least the Pakistanis and the Koreans accounted themselves better than Bhaarath against tier-2 teams like Spain, Great Britain, NZ, Belgium, and rapidly improving South Africa.). 

Do we (Bhaarath) blame the coach or the players?  As die-hard fans, one is indeed lost for words.  Regardless, a COMPLETE OVERHAUL of our hockey is the need of the hour.

 

Dr. Sivaram Hariharan aka Shiva Iyer

080812

* Ps see my earlier article “Breaking the Big-3 Barrier in International Men’s Field-hockey.”

 

start_blog_img
Sign Up For a Roundup of The Week's Top Bloggers
Email:
Follow SI :