Four Nations Hockey Tournament: Belgium Knocks India Out Of First Leg Finals

News World India | 1
| January 21 , 2018 , 16:53 IST

After beating New Zealand, Indian hockey team fell short of brilliance while locking horns with Belgium and tasted defeat by 1-2 in the first leg finals of the Four Nations Invitational Hockey Tournament at the Blake Park on Sunday.

Tom Boon (4th minute) and Sebastien Dockier (36th) found the target for Belgium while Mandeep Singh (19th) was India’s lone goal scorer. Within three minutes of the match, Belgium got off the block after winning a penalty corner.

India's first runner Chinglensana Kangujam was ineffectively rendered by Loick Luypaert's drag flick. Belgium's miss gave the rival team an opportunity to score as Dilpreet Singh dodged Belgian defender by making a beautiful turn at the top of the circle.

The ball was then forwarded to Lalit Upadhyay, who sadly, failed to get a nudge on the ball. Then came Belgium's first goal in the 4th minute by Tom Boon. India further missed a chance to score after winning a penalty corner despite Rupinder Pal Singh's fierce hit which was stopped by a Belgian defender.

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India gained some momentum in the second quarter and Manpreet sliced the ball into the centre of the circle and Mandeep reacted quickly and pushed the ball into the post by beating goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch. Belgian then put up a tough defence mechanism on the front which was tough to break.

Both the teams were at par before going for the half-time break, thanks to Sreejesh's excellent save in the 21st minute when Thomas Briels took a shot on goal. Although, the happiness was short-lived as Sebastien Dockier opened the third quarter with a goal.

India's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne tried to save the match in crucial end moments by pulling out their goalkeeper and the effort worked by earning India a penalty corner but Harmanpreet's attempt was well defended by the Belgians. India will lock horns with the hosting team, New Zealand on January 24 in the first match of the tournament's second leg.

"We were much better than our previous match against Belgium. Our young players are making good progress against a world class team like Belgium which we will benefit from in the future. For now, though, even a draw would have been a better result but the Belgium goalkeeper did some good work and made crucial saves," said Marijne.