In the final match of a frenetic weekend of hockey, the World champions and current world number one team, Belgium, overcame a speedy and skilful India team to reverse the previous day’s result and maintain their position at the top of the FIH World Rankings.
A vocal and enthusiastic crowd at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar watched as the action flowed back and forth, with Belgium taking an early lead only to see India come right back into the match at the end of the first half.
India’s head coach Graham Reid had already warned his team that, “an injured lion is dangerous.” And so it proved as Belgium edged it in a 3-2 thriller, in which no quarter was given by either side.
Just three minutes into the game and Belgium opened the scoring through a penalty corner rocket from Alexander Hendrickx. India equalised through Vivek Prasad. The second quarter then saw a flood of goal-scoring activity as Amit Rohidas found the net with Belgium answering immediately with a goal from Maxime Plennevaux.
It was Plennevaux who scored the winner, but both sides came tantalisingly close to adding to the scoreline. Good performances from Vincent Vanasch in the Belgium goal and PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak sharing the goalkeeping duties for India kept the score at 3-2.
Speaking after the game, Player of the Match, Belgium’s Nicolas de Kerpel said: “It [India] is always a really tough place to play. I hope the next time we play India, it is not so tough.”
Speaking about his team’s penalty corner routine, de Kerpel said: “It is all about rhythm. If we get the rhythm then we have the best penalty corner routine in the world. We scored from one today, so I hope that we are getting into the rhythm now.”
Talking of his own performance, de Kerpel said: “I am happy to be here as Player of the Match but I know there is more improvements to be made to my game.”
India’s captain, Manpreet Singh, said: “I think we have learnt a lot of things over the two games. We had good opportunities but we didn’t make the most of them.”
He added: “I am really proud of the team. In our matches against Netherlands and Belgium, we started at a good pace from the first whistle and we are scoring in the first minutes. And we have good counter attacks, so now we need to make the most of those.”
For more information on the match, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League
Saturday 8 February 2020 – Evening session
CENARD, Buenos Aires (ARG)
Women’s result: Argentina 6, USA 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Carla Rebecchi (ARG)
Umpires: Ayanna McClean (TTO), Catalina Montesino (CHI) & Bruce Bale (ENG – video)
Men’s result: Argentina 5 Spain 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Lucas Martinez (ARG)
Umpires: Federico Garcia (URU), Bruce Bale (ENG) & Catalina Montesino (CHI – video)
Sunday 9 February 2020
North Harbour Hockey Stadium, Auckland (NZL)
Men’s result: New Zealand 0, Great Britain 3 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Adam Dixon (GBR)
Umpires: Steve Rogers (AUS), Lim Hong-Zhen (SGP) & Irene Presenqui (ARG – video)
Women’s result: New Zealand 2, Great Britain 2 – 4-5 After Shoot-Out (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Georgia Barnett (GK – NZL)
Umpires: Aleisha Neumann (AUS), Irene Presenqui (ARG) & Lim Hong-Zhen (SGP – video)
Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
Men’s result: India 2, Belgium 3 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Nicolas de Kerpel (BEL)
Umpires: Coen van Bunge (NED), Gareth Greenfield (NZL) & David Tomlinson (NZL – Video)