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India Field Hockey Must Improve Defense for World Cup Success

Field hockey India World Cup

Photo via Field Hockey India Facebook

Largely in part to their inconsistent defense throughout their World Cup opener, India lost its matchup 3-2 against Belgium. India conceded a goal in the final 15 seconds of the match to lose the heartbreaker. They play England in their next match on Monday.

The following play by play courtesy of NDTV Sports summarizes the final moments of the match:

21:01 (IST): Last-minute heartbreak for India as Belgium beat India 3-2; score with 15 secs remaining! John Dohmen taps the ball and scores after taking control of it. India’s goalie Sreejesh tries his best to stop it but taps it inside on to the right side of the goal. Manpreet tries to reach out and stop it from going inside but it’s too late and he is far from the ball.

20:54 (IST): 67′ First penalty corner of the game for India. Raghunath strikes it over the bar though, it was a wild and wide push. Still 2-2.

20:52 (IST): 64′ Belgium miss their 6th penalty corner. They scored off the 5th earlier. India 2 Belgium 2.

20:49 (IST): 62′ Potential man-of-the-match performance from Indian goalie Sreejesh. He makes another great save! India 2 Belgium 2.

What caused the breakdown in the final moments of the match was the Indian defenders allowing space inside the circle to their opponents. The physicality required at this level of competition just wasn’t there, at least not in that moment. Constant movement of the ball by the Belgians – led by John-John Dohmen – saw the ball roll over the goal-line.

The ending was tougher to swallow because India had previously rallied from a one-goal deficit to go up 2-1 in the second session. Even the crowd, which was presumably largely-Belgian, showed support for the Indians.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Australia beat Malaysia 4-0; England drew with Spain, 1-1.

Rohit Ghosh is a Senior Writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.