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The hectic scheduling in the ongoing Hockey World League (HWL) Final today came in on for sharp criticism from competing teams, especially Argentina whose coach Carlos Retegui said he would take up the matter with the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Incidentally, the FIH did not keep a single rest day in the entire 11-day tournament, which meant some teams had to play back-to-back matches on consecutive days without getting enough recovery time.
Olympic champions Argentina is one such team which was a victim of FIH’s pool scheduling as after their 3-2 quarterfinal win over England yesterday, they did not get enough recovery time before today’s semi-final encounter against hosts India.
Even though Argentina won the semi-final 1-0, Retegui was furious with the scheduling of the eight-nation tournament.
“The Indians had a day’s rest and were in better condition than us as we played yesterday.
“Australia in 9 days has played 4 matches. We have played 4 games in 6 days. It’s not fair,” Retegui said after the hard-fought semi-final win on difficult playing conditions due to continuous downpour.
“This type of tournament format is not fair. Yesterday at 10 pm we got to know that we are playing the semi-final today. We will take it up with the FIH,” he added.
To make matters worse for the FIH, the decision to continue with the first semi-final between India and Argentina in sub-standard playing conditions due to continuous downpour has also raised a few eyebrows.
Bhubaneswar has been hit hard by a severe cyclonic depression in Bay of Bengal due to which the city has been witnessing relentless showers since early this morning.
Though hockey is played under rain just like football, the playing conditions at the Kalinga Stadium was far from conducive as patches of water in different parts of the turf made life difficult for players in both the seventh-eight place classification match as well as the first semi-final.
“We were ready and wanted to play today. We don’t know why two semi-finals are not played on the same day,” said Retegui.
India coach Sjoerd Marijne too said the conditions were tough to play hockey in and hampered the natural game of his players.
“Both teams could not play their best game. You have to deal with the circumstances. You can’t complain. Both teams had difficulties. It is what it is,” Marijne said.
“I don’t know the exact rule, but it’s good everyone knows when a match can be stopped and restarted the next day. You need to ask FIH that. We have been asked to play and we played.”
Refusing to give any excuses, the India coach said the Argentines were the better side.
“I can’t blame anyone about the loss. Argentina defended really well. They were a little bit more calm, did smart things like little high balls. Yes, they are an experienced team and that’s why they are number one,” Marijne said.