India's semifinal hopes up in smoke

India's semifinal hopes up in smoke

India's semifinal hopes up in smoke

India’s Tushar Khandker reacts after narrowly missing a goal against Spain during a World Cup match in New Delhi on Thursday. AP

Suffering a 2-5 defeat at the hands of the Olympic silver medallists, India now need a miracle to make it to the semifinals, and it is unlikely that any will arrive over the next few days.

“The World Cup dream is almost over,” admitted India’s coach Jose Brasa after the match. “We need a miracle to advance now. If we win the next two matches and the other teams lose, then we have a chance but it will be very difficult,” the Spaniard said.

Grim aspect

The grim face of the coach mirrored the mood in the Indian camp. After three matches in Pool B, they have just three points. England, having won all their three matches so far, are on top of the pool with nine points, followed by Australia and Spain with six points each. Only two teams qualify for the semifinals from each pool and India’s second defeat has pushed them almost to the point of no return.

They next take on England on Saturday, followed by a game against South Africa on March 8. They have to win these two matches and hope that the other teams slip up.

It is an unlikely scenario, going by their form so far. England were sharp in their defeat of Pakistan on Thursday while Australia showed that they were back on track after a defeat in the first match, slotting in a record 12 goals past South Africa for their second win. Spain, as evident from the India game, are also in the hunt.

“I am very, very sad about what has happened. I think it will be better for us to concentrate on getting the fifth position now,” Brasa said, striking a realistic note.