The Indian men’s hockey team’s dream of entering the Olympics final after 41-years remained unfulfilled as it lost 2-5 to world champions Belgium in the last-four stage but the side is still in the hunt for a bronze in the Tokyo Games on Tuesday (August 3). Alexander Hendrickx (19th, 49th, 53rd minutes), the tournament’s highest goal getter, scored a hat-trick while Loick Luypaert (2nd minute) and John-John Dohmen (60th) also struck to hand the reigning silver-medallists their second successive entry into the final of the Olympics.
India’s goals came from the sticks of Harmanpreet Singh (7th) and Mandeep Singh (8th). India’s last appearance in the final of the Olympics came way back in 1980 Moscow Games, where they went on to win their last of the eight gold medals.
The Indians had only themselves to blame for Tuesday’s disappointment as Belgium’s all four goals came from penalty corners. The Indian defence was put under relentless pressure by the Belgians as they secured as many as 14 penalty corners out of which they converted four.
Belgium’s game plan was clear from the onset as they tried to enter the Indian circle and earn penalty corners with Hendrickx and Luypaert in their ranks.
The ploy worked to perfection as the Indian defence wilted under pressure to concede the set pieces. India too earned five penalty corners in the match but could make use of just one.
The Indians still have a chance to secure an elusive medal from the Olympics as they will feature in the bronze medal match on Thursday against the losing team from the second semifinal between Australia and Germany later in the day.
Earlier, Hendrickx converted off the third penalty corner in the 49th minute that the world champions got in succession in the fourth quarter to score his 13th goal off the tournament. India now have to push forward and level the game if they dream of reaching the Tokyo Olympics gold medal match.
Belgium continued to frustrate India in their Tokyo Olympics men’s hockey semifinal, with the score level at 2-2 after the third quarter on Tuesday (August 3). India had plenty of opportunities in the game but have only managed to convert one out of the five penalty corner opportunities in the game. At the other end, Indian side displayed some great defensive work through Sumit and Amit Rohidas against the hockey World Champions. If the game stays level at 2-2 after the fourth quarter, there will be a shoot-out to decide the Tokyo Olympics hockey finalists.