New Delhi: The Indian men’s hockey team suffered its second successive loss, going down 1-3 to hosts Belgium in Boom for a disappointing end to the first leg of its ongoing tour of Europe.
The Red Devils dished out a spirited performance late last night and came back from a goal down to beat India and pocket the two-match series 2-0 in as many days.
India had earlier lost by a solitary goal to Belgium in their opening game of the tour on Wednesday.
The match yesterday began under overcast conditions with India having the momentum to begin with.
Young goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made a brilliant save in the first few minutes of the opening quarter to deny the Belgians.
The Indians, who have fielded an experimental team here with as many as six players making their debut in the senior national side, started on an aggressive note and surged ahead in the fourth minute when Armaan Qureshi scored a brilliant field goal.
India got an opportunity to double the lead soon from a penalty corner but the chance went amiss. The visitors maintained the pressure to keep Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch busy.
Qureshi took two back-to-back shots on goal but Vanasch was up for the challenge and he denied India any further lead.
The lead didn’t last long as Belgium scored the equaliser through Amaury Keusters (9th minute).
The second quarter saw both the teams trade penalty corners. While India wasted their chances, Belgium found success through Loick Luypaert who converted a set piece in the 21st minute.
Just at the stroke of halftime, Belgium extended their lead through Cedric Charlier’s field strike.
Down by two goals, India came close to converting a field goal in the third quarter but Sumit narrowly missed a deflection off Mandeep Singh.
In the final quarter, India pressed hard in search of goals but Belgium goalkeeper Vanasch was in top form to deny the likes of Mandeep, Qureshi and Ramandeep Singh’s attempts.
The Indians will now head to Waalwijk, Netherlands to face the home team on August 13 and 14 before winding up their five-match tour with a game against Austria in Amstelveen on August 16.
For India, midfielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam achieved the distinction of playing 150 matches for his country yesterday.
The Manipur-born Chinglensana made his international debut in the 2011 Champions Challenge in South Africa. Since then, he has been a regular member of the Indian team.
He has also been a part of some of the team’s most memorable feats such as the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, a historic silver medal at the 36th FIH Champions Trophy in London last year as well as the gold medal in the Asian Champions Trophy in 2016.