Hockey Flashbacks: India barely avoids a wooden spoon as Germany win it on home ground
The BDO Hockey World Cup 2006 was a game changer in many ways. While Germany had become invincible in this edition, teams like Pakistan and South Korea were on their way to a gradual decline, despite an above average performance in this edition.
However, this was also the World Cup, which triggered a series of humiliations for Team India, which culminated in the humiliating failure to make it to Beijing Olympics.
This time, the tournament was held for the first time in Germany, where the town of Monchengladbach hosted the coveted championship.
The format remained the same, where 12 teams competed with each other in two pools of six teams each, from which the best two teams of each pool would proceed to the semifinal.
Team India: The nightmare of 1986 almost comes back
The Indian field hockey team had a miserable season in the run-up to the FIH Hockey World Cup 2006.
Having finished last in the FIH Champions Trophy 2005, conducted ironically on their home soil, India had entered the World Cup with minimal expectations, hoping to finish at least in the top 5, if nothing else.
However, disaster seemed to be in the looming, ever since drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was shot by an accidental bullet shot from the pistol of an RPF cop in the Shatabdi Express. Following a last minute goal conceded to Germany in the opening match, India never actually recovered from that defeat and went on to choke on every occasion, including matches where they could've easily won.
In matches against South Korea and South Africa, India threw away their chance to pose a serious challenge, despite having an early lead. They completely gave up in the final match against the Netherlands, who pummeled them by 6-1.
The classification crossover was no better, and India choked to Argentina as well, losing by 3-2.
It was only in their last match, for the 11th and 12th position, that good sense finally prevailed over them, and they defeated South Africa by 1-0, with Rajpal Singh scoring the only goal in the 54th minute.
South Korea: So near, yet so far
On the other hand, South Korea had shown almost a glimpse of their magical journey from Sydney 2000, where they shocked everyone to win a silver medal, the last ever won by an Asian team in field hockey.
They didn't lose a single match, and cruised into the semifinals with ease, winning three and drawing two, including a surprise victory over the Netherlands by 3-2.
In the semifinals, they equalized the score within minutes of their opponents, and by 45 minutes, they had captured a surprise lead of 2-1.
Had it not been for the last 10-minute push by Jamie Dwyer and Michael McCann, South Korea could've very well shocked them to achieve a dream final with Germany.
However, the jinx of 2002 returned to haunt them again, and not only were South Korea knocked out of the contention for gold, but they were also denied a bronze medal by Spain, as Pol Amat Escude scored the golden goal for his team, earning them the bronze.
Germany: The second nation to win the World Cup on home soil
For Germany, this was history in the making. Having snatched victory from the jaws of a draw with India in the opening match, there was no looking back.
Riding high on the silver success from 2006 Champions Trophy, Germany's star player Christopher Zeller was on a roll, sparing none in his quest for glory.
In the semifinals, Christopher Zeller came to Germany's rescue, as they overcame a strong Spain, defeating them 3-1 on penalties.
The finals against Australia were a living nightmare for Germans initially. Down by 3-1 in the first 40 minutes, Christopher Zeller led the home team in their ferocious comeback, as they equalized the score within nine minutes.
In the 54th minute, Christopher broke through the Australian defence to strike a crisp goal for Germany, giving them their second title in a row.
Interestingly, this was also the second time any country won the FIH Hockey World Cup on their home soil, the first being Netherlands who won the same in 1998.