Hockey round-up from the 2016 Rio Olympics: Argentina surprise many with their gold medal
Fall of the British & Australian empire
The biggest non-performers of the tournament were Britain as they failed to do justice to their world rank of 4. Unlike their female compatriots who had a perfect record, the men's team couldn't qualify for the knockouts stage and this would drop them in the latest rankings. They drew against Spain in their final encounter which was a must-win encounter for them.
They lost heavily to Belgium in the opening fixture of Group A and then narrowly to another struggling side Australia as well as drawing with New Zealand, a game they were expected to win. The team looked weak and devoid of Plan B's and they need a good shakeup as they have been out of sorts in both the Champions Trophy and now the Olympics.
Also read: Rio shake up heralds changing of the guard
Australia were no. 1 coming into this tournament and perhaps one of the favourites to clinch gold. But they lost their opening 2 matches against Spain and Belgium. They managed to gather some momentum in the final matches. But then again, instead of topping their group, they finished 3rd meaning they had the daunting task of facing the Dutch in the quarters which was too big a task given their form.
Another legend and great of hockey - Jamie Dwyer also bowed out of international hockey. Sadly his team could not give him the perfect farewell with a podium finish. He was the oldest player in the tournament at 38 years.
Performance of the minnows
Brazil being the hosts just played this tournament as an experience and would try to build upon their fan base over the coming few years. Canada was beaten by all other teams, except for a draw in their last match against India. They would be happy with this result given their ranking of 15 and more so that their result caused and altered India's knockout stage plans.
India's mixed performance
India were superb in their penalty corner conversion but equally lackluster in front of the goal with just 3 field goals in the tournament. This was the cause of not earning a single pc in the quarterfinal loss against Belgium. India’s defence was solid but Raghunath earned 4 cards throughout the tournament and his loss at crucial junctures of the match tilted the outcome of the match in favor of the opposition.
But mind you India had beaten Argentina in the group stages and also scored first against the Red Lions of Belgium, which talks about how close and tough this tournament has been. A detailed article dissecting India’s performance would follow soon.
Final Men - Standings
With the Rio Olympics having no classification matches, the positions were decided on the number of wins and goals scored in the league phase. India had a poor goal difference as compared to all other teams and hence were positioned 8th position. This is certainly not good given their current ranking of 5, a minimum of the same ranking was expected. However, on a positive note this is an improvement from their wooden spoon finish in the 2012 London Olympics.
Note: Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Goals scored; 4) Head-to-head result
Great Britain denied defending champions - the Netherlands a hat-trick of Olympic golds in a tense penalty shoot out victory after the match was tied 3-3. Great Britain were the form team of the tournament where they topped the group, with an invincible record.
Germany doubled their bronze tally in hockey after the men's team clinched 3rd place beating Nederlands. This time, the women's team defeated the Kiwis i.e. New Zealand 2-1 to take the bronze medal.
USA had the best goal difference among the losing quarter-finalists and hence was placed 5th. Australia finished higher above Argentina, who were one of the tournament favorites.
Argentina – one of the title contenders had the poorest performance, as they finished a lowly 7th. This shows how big a void Luciana Aymar, one of its star player and hockey legend has left behind. It also highlights the amount of rebuilding the team needs to do in her absence, trying to turn new players into leaders and winners.
India finished a lowly 6th in their group with a solitary draw against Japan and hence were positioned 12th i.e. had to contain taking the wooden spoon. India would be happy to have qualified after 36 years in the first place and drawing a higher ranked opponent in Japan. But what could have been a real icing on the cake, was perhaps a win or at least giving a spirited fight against other higher ranked teams and pulling off a surprise. Unfortunately, they had the worst goal difference of -16 in any of the two groups.
Hence, they would be certainly disappointed by the margin of their defeats. And, it is here where the team missed their captain Ritu Rani the most. Her experience would have come handy to stem the tide of goals and muster some much-needed confidence in the team to build their own attacks.
Final Women - Standings
|5||United States of America|
The Indian men's team is set to play in 4-nation tournament in Australia in the month of November with New Zealand and Malaysia being the other teams during this quadrangular event. It looks most likely that the senior players will be given some rest and a new bunch of players, especially forwards would be tried out. We eagerly look forward to watching future matches and India’s resurgence in world hockey!