olympics, hockey

Hockey — injury worries for India

Given the kind of form, potential and fitness that they have shown recently, a lot is being expected from the present Indian Mens’ Hockey Team. But the news for them right before the start of the 2012 London Olympics is not a good one. Seasoned defender Ignace Tirkey’s sprained ankle and star mid-fielder Sardara Singh’s injured shin has left the Indian hockey team management worried.

Seasoned defender Ignace Tirkey’s sprained ankle and star midfielder Sardara Singh’s injured shin has left the Indian hockey team management worried ahead of the Olympic Games starting on July 27.

Injuries sustained by star midfielder Sardara, by far the most outstanding Indian player in recent times, and defender Ignace during the practice matches in Spain have kept the duo away from the turf for an entire week.

The team’s medical staff is working overtime to help Sardara back on his feet after a crushing blow on his shin from close range.

Ignace’s ankle sprain nearly saw India lose the most experienced player in the squad, but after a week of limping, he stepped back on to the pitch for a training session on Saturday evening, to the delight of the fellow players.

“We had a bad time with these two key players injured, but luckily they have shown good signs of recovery and should be back in good shape ahead of our first Olympic Games outing,” coach Michael Nobbs told PTI.

Nobbs said Sardara was unlucky to have been smacked on the leg from very close range during India’s first match of the Spanish tour, after which he did not feature in any game.

Ignace, on the other hand, had to sit out of three matches after spraining his ankle in a match against South Africa during the European tour before arriving in London.

“These two players have a crucial role to play for India and we were obviously concerned with the injuries, but they are getting back into shape,” said Nobbs.

Their workout will be increased gradually as India moves closer to its opening match against the Netherlands on July 30.

OLYMPIC FOOTBALL

BRAZIL VS BELARUS PREVIEW

Having recorded a hard-fought victory over Egypt in their opening game, the tournament favourites could be in for another difficult task, this time against dark horses Belarus.

The predictions seemed spot on when they scored three goals inside the first period in the opening game against Egypt, but two second-half goals from the Pharaohs made them sweat in the final 15 minutes of the match.

The clash against Egypt should serve as warning that Brazil need to take every opponent seriously if they want to win their first ever Olympic gold, and we are yet to see how the team will respond against Belarus.

Mano Menezes is likely to stick to the same side that beat Egypt and he is only expected to experiment in the final group game against New Zealand.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Neto – Rafael, Thiago Silva, Juan, Marcelo – Oscar, Sandro, Romulo – Hulk, Leandro Damiao, Neymar.

Belarus may be making their first appearance at the Summer Olympics, but nobody is really surprised to see the Red Devils in London.

The former Russian republic have become famous for their excellent work in youth categories and most of their youth sides are regular at tournament finals.

Belarus Olympic squad have done well to mastermind a 1-0 victory over New Zealand in their opening game, although they scored the only goal from a set-piece.

The Red Devils are expected to line up in a 4-5-1 formation with former Zenit star Sergei Kornilenko set to be deployed as a lone striker.

Probable starting line-up (4-5-1): Gutor – Kozlov, Politevich, Polyakov, Kuzmianok- Solovey, Renan, Dragun, Baga, Gordeychuk – Kornilenko.

SENEGAL VS URUGUAY PREVIEW

Senegal did well to keep their qualifying hopes alive by holding hosts Great Britain to a 1-1 draw, but they now face another tricky tie against one of the tournament favourites.

Uruguay experienced major problems in what should have been an easy game against UAE, but Oscar Tabarez’s side did record an important victory after coming from a goal down.

The Teranga Lions were virtually written off after Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Dame N’Doye were ruled out of the tournament, but their opening game showed Senegal are not there only to make the numbers.

Abdoukarime Diouf’s side worked really hard throughout the game and fought valiantly for every single ball, and the equalizer scored by Moussa Konate was ajust reward for their efforts.

Midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is doubtful after picking up injury against Team GB, but all other players are fit to feature.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): O. Mane – Ciss, Ba, P. Gueye, Souare – Kouyate, Diame, Z. Toure – Konate, Balde, S. Mane.

What was supposed to be a mere walk in the park turned out to be an extremely difficult encounter for Uruguay as La Celeste were completely outplayed by enthusiastic UAE side in the first half.

The free-kick goal Gaston Ramirez scored just before the half-time break proved crucial, and Oscar Tabarez’s men managed to win the game thanks to Nicolas Lodeiro after showing a massive improvement in the second period.

The experienced boss admitted after the game that his side were experienced big fitness problems and with the clash against hard-working Senegal side coming just three days later, everything suggests La Celeste will be in for another difficult encounter.

Boss Oscar Tabarez is unlikely to make major changes to the side, although match winner Nicolas Lodeiro should start.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Campana – Albin, Arias, Coates, Rolin – Lodeiro, Arevalo Rios, Calzada – Suarez, Cavani, Ramirez.