Antwerp (Belgium), 03 July 2015: After putting an impressive game, India Men Team went down to host nation Belgium by 0-4 in the Semi-Final match of the FINTRO World Hockey League Semi-Final 2015, held in Antwerp, Belgium today. Florent van Aubel scored a hat-trick and helped the FIH Rank # 4 team to reach the Final of the tournament.
The first quarter started with high intense battle and speedy attacks on both sides. Players from both team looked for early lead and tied to out-foxed each-others defenders. It was the hosts Belgium who got the early success when they sneaked into India’s circle from right side and Florent van Aubel scored a brilliant goal through his reverse shot, beating Indian custodian PR Sreejesh, in the 2nd minute. Belgians surprised attacked earned them 1-0 lead over India and both the teams again fought harder to score goals. Indians made few advances and managed to create some close chances to score goals but faced a steady Belgian defence. In the 8th minute, Belgium earned a penalty corner and Sreejesh saved the first shot perfectly, but the ball rebounded and Tanguy Cosyns hit the ball harder into the nets for their second goal. Conceding two quick goals, Indians started playing with more aggression and continuously attacked on their opponent’s side. After a fast-paced game, the first quarter finished at 2-0 in favour of Belgium.
In the 2nd quarter, India stepped on the ground with more passion and zeal to open their account. Indians attacked from all sides and managed to keep the ball in the Belgian half. Young forward player Satbir Singh led the attack, who challenged opponent’s defenders many times. Along with Satbir, skipper Sardar Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Dharamvir Singh and Manpreet Singh attacked from the right side and put pressure on Belgians. On the other side, Belgium players restricted Indian penetrations with their defensive game-plan and maintained the score-card 2-0 till the end of second quarter.
In the third quarter of the match, both teams continued their struggle to score goals and tried to create maximum opportunities. After series of attacks, India earned a penalty corner but failed to convert into goal. Belgium counter-attacked with quick speed and earned a penalty corner in the 41st minute. Indian defenders managed to save the first shot but ball rebounded towards the injector van Aubel, who sent the ball in the goal-box within fraction of a second. With van Aubel’s second goal, Belgium led the score-line by 3-0. Indians charged back and earned another penalty corner after few minutes. However, they failed to materialise the opportunity and the quarter finished at 3-0 in favour of Belgium.
In the fourth quarter, Indians came with better game-plans and tried to create opportunities to reduce the margin. Indians kept on attacking on their opponent’s half and same time they were restricting Belgian attacks. In the 53rd minute, Belgium earned another penalty corner. This time again, Sreejesh saved the first shot and he moved forward to clear the ball. But Belgian players dribbled him past him and van Aubel deflected the ball into the goal-box for his hat-trick goal. Trailing by four goals, Indians didn’t give up and they maintained their attacking tactics. However, India could not breach the Belgian defence and eventually they lost the match by 0-4.
India will play the 3rd / 4th match on 5th July 2015 at 07.00 pm (IST) in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015.