The Hague, Netherlands, 31st May 2014: In their opening match of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014, being played at the Hague, Netherlands, India were defeated 5th ranked Belgium by 3-2.
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 Indian Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh kept Belgian attacks away from net, while the Belgians hardly allowed India to enter in their D. It was only in the 34th minute when Belgium’s Florent van Aubel managed to beat P.R Sreejesh on deflection to earn lead for his team just before the half time.
The second half of the match saw comeback from Team India when they found the equalizer in the 45th minute on brilliant move by Gurbaj Singh who passed to Dharamvir on base line and finally Mandeep Singh gave the finishing touch. On a long pass from Raghunath, Akashdeep Singh deflected in to earn 2-1 lead for his team. The score was levelled by Belgium’s Simon Gougnard in 56th minute as he made no mistake in converting a penalty corner opportunity after receiving the ball from D-top after starting the move as pusher. The match was appearing to be sealed at 2-2 draw, but Belgium’s John-john Dohmen turned the tables when he found the target in dying moments of the game to score the winning goal.
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 the 2nd June 2014 (Monday) in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014.