Rio de Janeiro (11 August, 2016): First it was the Germans and now the Dutch. Eight-time Olympic champions India stuttered once again just when it mattered most by going down 1-2 gainst reigning silver medallist Netherlands in the Rio Olympics on Thursday.
The Indians, ranked World No 5, however, progressed to the men’s hockey quarter-finals for the first time since 1980 Moscow Games even in defeat against the Dutch, ranked World No 2, at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro Park.
Roelant Oltmans India had gone through a similar motion against Germany by allowed the defending champions to snatch a late goal with 3.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
After the completion of four matches, India is at third spot in the table standings with six points – four behind Netherlands (10) and Germany (10) and a point ahead of Argentina.
The Argentineans played to a 4-4 draw against Germany on Thursday and are in fourth spot with five points while Ireland, who defeated Canada 4-2 for their first win, have three points. The Canadians, who will meet India on Friday in their last Group B preliminary round match, have no points to show.
Should India go down against Canada and Ireland beat Argentina or vice-versa India will still qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands scored both their goals from penalty-corners, through Rogier Hoffman (32nd minute) and Mink van der Weerden (54th), while India’s lone goal came from the stick of V R Raghunath (38th).
India had a chance to score the equaliser and snatch a point from the match which went into intense drama in the final seconds, but they failed to score from five successive penalty-corners.
Trailing 1-2 with four minutes left, India withdrew goalkeeper PR Sreejesh for an additional forward and pressed for the equaliser. Their efforts bore fruit as they earned their fourth penalty-corner six seconds from the hooter after appealing for a video referral.
That penalty-corner resulted in four more back-to-back short corners but India’s drag-flick specialists of Rupinder Pal Singh, who had four tries, and Raghunath failed to break the Dutch defence, led by goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.
In the only men’s Group A match played on Thursday, Belgium continued its superb run by defeating Spain 3-1 to go top of the table on 12 points. The Spaniards are in second spot (9) followed by world champions Australia (6) while New Zealand and Great Britain share four-equal points to stay in fourth and fifth spots.
The tussle for the last quarterfinals spot from Group A will remain a three-horse race between the Aussies, Kiwis and Britons.
In women’s hockey event, India’s eves lost 0-3 against the United States, Great Britain edged Japan 2-0 and Australia earned a 1-0 win over Argentina in their Group B games. India came from behind to draw 2-2 against Japan in the first game of the Olympics, outplayed by Great Britain 0-3 in the second and went down 1-6 against the Australians.
India’s last match is against Argentina on August 13 and faces a highly remote chance of making through to the last eight now after their defeat. They will need to beat Argentina by more 11 goals and in the process no concede any goal!.
The United States lead Group B standings with 12 points while Great Britain moved into second (12) followed by Australia (6), Argentina (4) while India and japan have one point.
Kathleen Bam scored a brace (13th and 41st) and Melissa Gonzalez added the third for the United States with nine minutes remaining in the match. The Indians also scored a goal through Rani Rampal but it was denied due to dangerous play.
Germany also scored a 2-1 win over Spain to move into second spot in Group – two points adrift of leaders Netherlands, while New Zealand is in third (6), China fourth and Spaniards lurking dangerously for a quarterfinals slot with three points so far. The Koreans are at the bottom of the standings with no points.
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