CHENNAI: The 92nd All India MCC Murugappa Gold Cup saw its first casualty on Sunday with the Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA) exiting after losing their third straight game. The final nail in their coffin was a 0-4 reverse to ONGC.
In three matches, the Mumbai side only managed to score two goals, while conceding ten — Victo Singh scored against Indian Railways while Roshan Keisham did the same against the Indian Army. The Mumbai side missed a couple of chances to score against defending champions ONGC as well. Their manager Mukul Pandey though had no complaints about the performance. He blamed the early exit on inexperienced players, the absence of a coach and a lack of rest between matches.
“Yes, we lost all the matches, but I am looking at the positive side of it,” the soft-spoken Mukul admitted. “With only 10 days of practice, the boys put up a good fight against experienced players. There are young college students and office goers in the team who could only practice during the weekends.”
He admitted that a lack of proper practice was a disadvantage and that was the lesson from this trip.
Mukul revealed that Vernon Lobo was about to travel as a manager but a spine problem, a day before the journey, prevented him from doing so. So captain Victo Singh took over as acting coach while Mukul replaced Lobo.
The youngsters also struggled with having to play matches on three consecutive days, the 65-year-old Mukul admitted. “Players could not give their best because there was no gap between matches. The boys were tired from playing in the hot sun and we can’t expect more than this from inexperienced players who had to deal with a difficult run of fixtures.”
Results: Punjab & Sind Bank 4 bt Indian Navy 2; ONGC 4 bt MHA 0; IOC 4 bt Chennai Hockey Association 0.