The men in blue put up a fighting performance, but they went down by two goals to the highly-rated Belgium side in the fourth match of the Four Nations Hockey at the Blake Park on Thursday. The squad will now begin preparations to face New Zealand in their match which will be played on Saturday.
The opening match of the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga, New Zealand began on 17th January and that saw the Indians thrash Japan with a scoreline of 6-0 in what turned out to be a completely one-sided affair. The men in blue set the bar in their first match but couldn’t repeat the feat against the highly-rated Belgian nation.
Belgian’s Arthur De Sloover and Victor Wegnez scored in the eighth and 34th minute respectively to help Belgium win and bounce back from the 4-5 loss suffered at the hands of New Zealand on Wednesday.
The Indian men's hockey team failed to convert any of the four penalty corners, something that will surely come up in the team’s discussion session, which may have cost them the match. Both teams played out an exciting first quarter, though it was Belgium who constantly tested the Indian defence, moving the ball swiftly while creating plenty of opportunities in the striking circle.
The Indian backline was solid throughout the match but it was the midfield that failed to generate decent attacking chances which resulted in the lack of shots on target. From the moment the opening whistle went off, it was Belgium who was constantly pushing through and creating chances. The 1-0 lead in the eighth minute put India on the backfoot. In the 12th minute, however, India found a golden opportunity to equalise when forward Ramandeep Singh won the team the first PC of the match, but the chance went begging, as the ball could not be stopped at the top of the D. A compact Belgian defence slowed down India's attack in the second quarter.
A strong circle penetration in the opening minute of the third quarter saw India win their third Penalty Corner of the match, but Varun Kumar's drag flick was deflected by Belgian defender, denying India an equaliser. Only minutes later, an error by the Indian defence was capitalised by Belgian Victor Wegnez who found the gap to put the ball into India's post to take his team's lead to a comfortable 2-0 in the 34th minute.
The Indians will now look to make a quick recovery by giving their all against the Kiwis when they meet on Saturday and emerge