The Indian women hockey team’s campaign in the FIH Hockey World League (HWL) semi-final got off to a disappointing note as they lost 0-1 to hosts Belgium in Antwerp. The Ritu Rani-led side showed promise in the early exchanges, but thereon they did not quite live to their early aggression as their midfield struggled to work in tandem with their forwardline.
The Indian forwards lacked conviction in the Belgium ‘D’ and were fortuitous to see the match at even stevens after a Belgium goal was disallowed as the former took the referral route. The Mathias Ahrens-coached side failed to earn any penalty corner in the first half – summing up the way they played in those thirty minutes. Indian goalkeeper Savita was kept busy in the cage as Belgium mounted steady raids even their opponents were unable to churn out meaningful moves upfront.
The Red Panthers, who muffed up their first short corner in the first half, made amends when Van Lindt Lieselotte broke the logjam in the 35th minute. India responded immediately with their first penalty corner and skipper Ritu Rani’s rasping effort produced a superb save from Belgium goalkeeper.
Belgium held the advantage going into the final quarter as India failed to make the most of their second short corner as the lack of a potent drag-flicker for the side came to the fore. Belgium played smart hockey keeping the ball away from India in the closing stages to glean full points.
It may be noted that the two teams played out a draw in the 2013 Hockey World League Semifinals in Rotterdam.
Meanwhile, Olympic champions Netherlands made a whirlwind start to their campaign in the second FIH Women’s Hockey World League Semifina clobbering France 11-0 in Antwerp, Belgium. The Dutch eves looked in command from the outset and rattled up a huge lead at half-time before going on to close out a massive first game win to top Pool A. In another Pool A tie, Italy sprang a surprise holding Korea to a 1-1 draw.
4th ranked New Zealand thumped Poland 12-0 in a Pool B match.Published 20 Jun 2015, 21:27 IST