India were handed yet another defeat in their last Pool B fixture at London Olympics as they went down 0-3 to Belgium at Riverbank Arena.
Gurbaj Singh conceded an early penalty corner in the starting minutes but the drag flick by Belgium was deflected off Sandeep Singh as India managed to thwart an early strike. But a 15th minute lapse in defense led to a field goal from Jerome Dekeyser who just had the keeper to beat with too much space to work for India’s liking. Sunil and Shivendra worked hard up front, trying to bring the equalizer which always remained elusive in the wake of another poor performance in trapping by the Indian forwards. The passes were missed regularly as the men in attack failed to latch on to them and Belgium went into the break 1-0.
Upon resumption, India earned a penalty corner but Sandeep Singh’s drag flick was deflected superbly by Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch as he dived to his right to clear the ball with the top of his outstretched stick. Shivendra was slow to react to a couple of passes inside the D and other which clearly were out of his reach as India failed to level the scores. But in the 46th minute, an abysmal show of defending by Indians increased the lead for Belgium. The initial attack was broken by a deflection inside the Indian box as the ball landed in no-man’s land. Gauthier Boccard was alert and reverse flicked the ball into the net as the Indian defenders were left frozen and ball-watching at their respective positions. Belgium almost made it 3-0 with a deflection but the goal was disallowed due to the height of deflection.
Tushar troubled the Belgian defense and yet another brilliant save by the Belgian goalkeeper frustrated India as Tushar’s reverse flick drew an acrobatic save from Vanasch. But after all the missed chances up front, yet another shoddy display at the back in the 67th minute led to the Belgians scoring the 3rd goal via another reverse flick. Tom Boon found much space on the left and easily flicked it where a deflection off Manpreet Singh‘s stick found the back of the net.
With this loss, India has finished last in the Pool B and will play Pool A wooden stick holders South Africa in a playoff for the 11th-12th position on 11th August. This is by far, the worst performance by any Indian hockey team at the Olympics they’ve participated in so far as the previous worst was an 8th position finish in 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Belgium – Jerome Dekeyser (15th), Gauthier Boccard (46th), Tom Boon (67th)