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Flashback Hockey: When the Indian eves were forced to settle for the wooden spoon in 1998 edition

166   //    16 Jul 2018, 01:32 IST

Flashback Hockey : When Team India finished last at Women's Hockey World Cup 1998
India finished last at the Women's Hockey World Cup 1998 (Representational image)

1974, Mandelieu: India storms into the semifinals of the inaugural FIH Women's Hockey World Cup, missing the podium by a whisker

1980, Moscow: India misses the Olympics podium on debut by a whisker, finish 4th.

1982, New Delhi: India clinches gold medal in their debut appearance at Asian Games [women's hockey]

1998, Utrecht: India finishes last in the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup

Surprised? Though one would not wish this, it's sadly true. A team that was once touted to be an able successor to the glorious legacy of their male counterparts bit dust at the 1998 edition of the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup, a rare occasion when both the editions of the FIH Hockey World Cup were held at a single place in a single year.

Not able to even eke out a draw, the Indian eves were forced to settle for the wooden spoon and finished last out of 12 teams competing against each other.

Group Stages: Australia continue to dominate, South Korea miss a second chance to podium

The group stages were the same old story: no underdogs ready to turn on the tables. The previous edition's champions, Australia sailed effortlessly into the semifinals, not losing a single match throughout the pool stage. Except for a solitary loss to Australia, even a unified Germany reached their semifinal since 1990.

Other teams who made it to the semifinals were, without doubt, the classic rivals, Netherlands and Argentina, who outclassed all the other teams in their route to the semifinals.

The only team who posed some serious competition to both was the South Korean women's hockey team, who almost entered their second ever semifinals since 1990 when they became the first ever Asian team to win a medal at the Women's Hockey World Cup with a bronze in their kitty. Sadly, their dreams didn't come true, and they missed the berth by a whisker.


However, giving it their all, South Korea did manage to finish a respectable 5th, which somewhat tried to soothe their wounds, given that they had clinched a silver medal at Atlanta Olympics only two years ago.

Team India at World Cup: The less said, the better

On the other hand, Team India, a far cry from their glory days of the 70s and the early 80s, cut a sorry figure at this World Cup.

They did not win a single match throughout the pool stage, conceding a whopping 14 goals to the opposition. Even in the 1983 edition, where India had qualified last before the 1998 edition, the Indian eves did manage to draw one match.

Needless to say, knocked out of contention for a top-eight finish, Team India had to play for the 9th to 12th position classification insiders.

To everyone's shame, India lost both of these matches too. They lost first to Scotland by 3-5, and then by 2-4 to China, who would go on to win the last ever bronze medal by an Asian team in the Women's World Cup four years later.

Though the Indian eves bounced back with a silver medal from the Bangkok Asiad held much later in 1998, the last place finish is something that will continue to haunt us until our women's team don't break into the last four of this prestigious tournament.

Australia on a roll

On the other hand, Team Australia looked calm and carefree. Defeating Argentina effortlessly by 4-2, they overcame a Dutch scare in the opening minutes of the game with back to back three goals.

Even a 62nd minute hit by Julie Deiters was just not enough to bring the Dutch back into the game, and Australia became the 2nd ever country after the Netherlands to win back to back World Cups. On the other hand, Germany won their first ever World Cup medal after reunification, defeating Argentina by 4-3 to remain on the podium.

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