Gold dreams crushed as India lose semifinal to Belgium, fail to reach men's hockey final
India’s dream of winning the 9th Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey collapsed in 15 minutes after losing 2-5 to the semifinals in a fierce battle with world champion Belgium at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo on Monday. .. India’s inspiration for the semi-finals for the first time in 49 years brought back a billion hopes, but finished second in the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals.
Alexander Hendrickx scored two more goals in the final quarter to extend Belgium's lead by two goals. John-John Dommen scored the fifth goal as India lose 2-5 against Belgium to miss out on the final. India will face off against either Australia or Germany in the Men's Hockey Bronze medal match. Hendrickx had earlier got things back on level terms, scoring a thunderous drag-flick to level the scores in the 2nd quarter. In the first couple of minutes, Belgium took a lead as Luick Luypaert struck from an early penalty corner to give Belgium the lead. India bounced back as Harmanpreet Singh equalized with a drag-flick on a penalty corner, followed by a fantastic tomahawk hit from Mandeep Singh that gave the coach Graham Reid side.
India was always going to pay the price for conceding as many as 14 penalty corners, which was just not going to make the cut against Belgium who has a red-hot and world-class drag-flicker in Hendrickx. Belgium had to convert only 3 of their 14 penalty corners and the writing was on the wall for India. However, India lifted themselves from the setback and showed tremendous grit to win their next 3 matches to finish 2nd with 4 wins in 5 matches in Pool A.
India's defense was up to the mark with the likes of Amit Rohidas doing a fine job as the first-rusher. Sumit showed class at the back but India conceded as many as 7 penalty corners in the first 3 quarters. The pace dipped after the first two quarters on a hot and humid day in Tokyo as both teams failed to find the back of the post in the 3rd quarter.
India, World No. 3, have shown the world they are here to win and not just make up the numbers. After a series of heartbreaks over the last few years, Manpreet Singh's men rose to the occasion at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Men in Blue ended a 49-year-long wait for a semi-final berth with a dominant 3-1 win over Great Britain. Unlike a few other teams, India has found different heroes for different matches and kept the hopes of a billion alive until Tuesday.