The Indian men’s hockey team ended their Belgium tour on a great note by beating the World Champions by 5-1 goals to remain unbeaten in the tour. Simranjeet Singh (7'), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (35'), Vivek Sagar Prasad (36'), Harmanpreet Singh (42') and Ramandeep Singh (43') scored for the visitors.
World No. 5 Indian Men's Hockey Team on Thursday produced an attacking masterclass to defeat reigning World and European Champions Belgium 5-1 in the fifth and last match to maintain their 100% record in their Tour of Belgium. The Indian team won all five matches during the Tour, beating Belgium 2-0 in the opening match, and registering 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Spain in the next two games, before finishing off their Tour with two wins against Belgium (2-1 and 5-1). The last match saw Simranjeet Singh (7'), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (35'), Vivek Sagar Prasad (36'), Harmanpreet Singh (42') and Ramandeep Singh (43'), all score a goal each to earn a scintillating victory for the Indian team.
With four wins out of four, India were brimming with confidence, starting the match on the front-foot and producing a stunning move in the 7th minute to take the lead through Forward Simranjeet Singh. Belgium did try to force a comeback but their Penalty Corner was saved by Krishan B Pathak in the 9th minute, meaning that India maintained their one-goal advantage at the first break. The second quarter saw World No. 2 Belgium win themselves back-to-back Penalty Corners in the 16th minute, but India's Pathak made sure that their lead stayed intact. It was a difficult period for the Indian team as Belgium tried to look for the equalizer, however some resolute defending saw India take their lead into the half-time break.
The visitors started the third quarter with attacking intent, and were rewarded immediately, with Lalit Kumar Upadhyay bagging his first goal of the match in the 35th minute extending the lead to 2-0. Another attack in the next minute saw youngster Vivek Sagar Prasad also register his name on the score-sheet as he produced a crafty finish to beat the Belgian Goalkeeper. The 38th minute saw Belgium penetrate and win a Penalty Corner, but PR Sreejesh's diving save kept the score down to 3-0 in India' favour, however a brilliant strike from the retake by Alexander Hendrickx made it 3-1 in the 39th minute.
But Belgium could not stay in the match for too long as India replied to conceding by scoring twice in two minutes just before the end of the third quarter and extending their lead to 5-1. India's fourth goal was scored by drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, who converted a Penalty Corner in the 42nd minute, while the fifth goal came through Ramandeep Singh who scored in the 43rd minute to finish off a great team-move. Playing at home, the World Champions tried to make inroads into the Indian striking circle but some strong tackling, and interceptions in the last quarter meant that the Indians maintained their 100% record in the five matches, and secured a huge 5-1 win to finish off the Tour.
The Indian Men's Hockey team will be vying for an Olympic berth when they take on Russia in the crucial FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held on November 1 and 2 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. For the very first time, the Indian Women's Hockey team too will be playing in front of the hockey-loving people of Odisha when they take on USA in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium on November 1 and 2. The excitement among the teams is palpable and they are working towards peaking at this important event. Having represented India at the Rio Olympics after 36 years, the women's team will be aiming to take part in their second consecutive Olympics in the history of Indian hockey and they are confident of making history. Make sure you witness history unfold at the Kalinga Stadium by booking your tickets.