The Hague, Netherlands: In their opening match of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014, being played at the Kyocera Stadium, The Hague, Netherlands, India lost to 5th ranked Belgium by 3-2 in a well contested match.
India and Belgium fought a tough clash with a nail biting climax, where the latter edged past by a close 3-2. The first half of the match saw a dry run till the 34th minute of the game as both the teams restricted each other from penetrating any goals and saw goalkeeper PR Sreejesh at his best as he held back Belgian players from doing any damage. It was only in the 34th minute when Belgium’s Florent van Aubel managed to beat P.R Sreejesh and sneaked in a tight goal, opening the account his team and taking the lead by 1-0 before the whistle for the half time blew.
The second half of the match saw an outstanding comeback from Team India when Mandeep Singh sliced in the equalizer in the 45th minute. To take the lead further ahead to 2-1, it was Akashdeep’s field goal in the 50th minute, which added on to India’s lead and confidence. The score was levelled by Belgium’s Simon Gougnard in 56th minute as he made no mistake in converting a penalty corner opportunity and tied the score at 2-2. The match was appearing to be sealed at 2-2 draw, but Belgium’s John-john Dohmen turned the tables when he pierced in the winning goal in the very last minute of the match and closed the game with a 3-2 win.
Speaking on team’s performance, India’s Head Coach, Terry Walsh said, “It is a little disappointing that we lost the first game, but I am pleased to see the exceptional performance that the boys have showcased today. The first half went a little slower but the team made a decent comeback in the second half. I am very happy with PR Sreejesh’s performance today, as he showed some extra ordinary skills on the field and did justice to the responsibility given to him”
Speaking on the loss, Captain Sardar Singh said, “It a not a very good start for the team and we will have to push ourselves a little more harder now. Considering the fact that the team showed tremendous strength and skill in the this match, I think we are on the right track and will be working even harder to deliver better results”
India will now take on England on Monday.
Results: India 2 – Mandeep Singh (45 min) and Akashdeep Singh (50 min) Vs. Belgium 3 – Florent van Aubel (34 min), Simon Gougnard (56 min) and John-John Dohmen (70 min)