After its hard-fought defeat against Belgium in the Tokyo Olympic hockey tournament, Indian Men’s Hockey team is confirmed to fight for the bronze. If the team continues on its rich vein of form, it can end the 41-year Olympic medal drought.
The Manpreet Singh-led team faced a crushing 5-2 defeat against the current number 2nd and reigning World Cup winners Belgium. With the defeat, Indian men’s hockey team is no longer in the contention to bag the gold or silver. But with the brown metal up for grabs, the team would be looking to give one hard fight to conclude the tournament on a high.
In the India VS Belgium semi-final clash, India was fighting tooth and nail to script history while the reigning world champions and current number 2 showed their mettle. The first half of the match showed that it was whoever’s game to win and the second half was where Belgium outplayed India.
First Quarter – Belgium Gets Early Lead, India Strikes Back
The game started and in the second minute itself Belgium did to India what India did to Great Britain in the last game – gain a lead. Felix Denayer took the initiative and Luypaert finally holed it in to give Belgium a 1-0 lead.
However, the Belgium players couldn’t keep the lead last long and in the 12th minute Indians came back thanks to a penalty corner and made no mistake to get a goal. It was Harmanpreet Singh who took the charge of converting the corner, and it was his 5th successful conversion this Olympics.
India Dictates the Pace, Gets 2-1 Lead
What happened in the next few minutes was too good to be true as Mandeep Singh’s reverse hit was safely inside the line and Indian players were dictating the pace with the score at 2-1. With 3 goals already made, the first quarter of the first half ended with a lot of action.
Belgium Turns Things Around, Score Levelled
The second quarter was where the Belgium players started to turn things around. A penalty corner awarded to Belgium didn’t go to waste and Alexander Hendrickx holed the ball in to take the score to 2-2. Neither of the teams conceded any more penalty corners till the half-time whistle blew.
Belgium Goes on Aggressive, Multiple Goals Conceded by India
In the fourth quarter, the Belgium players out maneuvered Indian defense and star defender Alexander Hendrickx struck another goal – his 13th overall this year – to help Belgium take the 2-3 lead. As if all the goals were making Hendrickx hungrier, he struck another blow to the Indian hopes and took the score to 2-4.
India needed a miracle to make a comeback and unfortunately, it wasn’t the case today. The Indian field hockey men’s team was rattled and were reeling by the end of the game. The Belgium players capitalized on the jaded body language of their opposition players and scored another goal to register a 2-5 victory.
PM Modi, Shikhar Dhawan, And Others Comfort Indian Team
After the loss, Indian fans, sportspersons, political leaders all took to Twitter to appreciate the valiant efforts made by the team and wished the luck for the bronze game that’s slated to happen.
Tough luck boys. Let’s get the bronze medal now 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/SJZUiwSVHN
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) August 3, 2021
Wins and losses are a part of life. Our Men’s Hockey Team at #Tokyo2020 gave their best and that is what counts. Wishing the Team the very best for the next match and their future endeavours. India is proud of our players.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 3, 2021
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) August 3, 2021
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) August 3, 2021
How India’s Bronze Can Be Historic?
For the first time in over 4 decades, the India’s men’s hockey team is just one victory away from an Olympic medal. While, the gold and silver are now out of reach thanks to a humbling and learning defeat from Belgium, the Indian side can still go all guns blazing for bronze.
India’s relationship with hockey is one writing in the golden ink. From 1928-1956, the men’s team won 6 consecutive golds at the Olympics. In 1960, India’s neighbour Pakistan halted India’s golden rush and the country had to settle for a silver. However, in the 1964 Olympics, it again won a gold.
This winning streak led to the spread of one of the biggest myths in India – its national sport being hockey. Many for years believed India’s national sport was hockey, a myth later debunked in 2012.
The glory has since eluded India, and there has been a 41-year drought which may get broken if the stars align. India will be now playing the winner of Australia VS Germany.