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2018 Hockey World Cup: India’s 43 year-old Wait for a World Cup Trophy Continues

The hosts put a tough fight against the Netherlands, but ultimately lost 1-2 against the three-time champions.

India opened the scoring line through Akashdeep who scored in the first half before goals from Brinkmann and Van der Weerden cancelled out to enter the semifinals for the 10th time.

India had started their World Cup campaign in style by thrashing South Africa 5-0 before going on to draw 2-2 with tournament favourites Belgium. They then defeated Canada by 5-1 in the final pool match to finish at the top of the group and gain direct entry into the quarterfinals.

Netherlands, on the other hand, also had started roaringly with a 7-0 smashing of Malaysia. They hit a stumbling block in the face of Germany who defeated 4-1. However, they more than compensated for it by strolling past Pakistan by 5-1 before dispatching Canada 5-0 in the crossover match.

However, the stats were certainly not in the host’s favour, with India having not defeated the Netherlands for a single time in the World Cup.

The match commenced in a lively fashion with both the teams vying to score the elusive first goal. Both enjoyed extended periods of possession, with defences doing their job pretty well.

The break, quite surprisingly, landed to India who scored a beautiful goal with 5 minutes left for the first quarter. The men in blue won a penalty corner after the Netherlands conceded a foul in the penalty area. In the penalty corner, Harmanpreet hit the ball that with tenacious pace. It rebounded and landed to Akashdeep, who rightfully dispatched it on the rebound.

However, the celebrations were short-lived as Thierry Brinkmann scored what may very well be a contender for the goal of the tournament award. The Holland player won the ball in the midfield before ambitiously hitting the ball from quite a distance. The ball went like a bullet through a sea of player and even past Indian keeper Sreejesh, who just managed to put a slight deflection. At 1-1, the game was on.

The following quarter turned into a game of chess, with both the teams attacked with precaution. However, whatever chances came were nullified by the respective sides. The best chance of the quarter came India’s way, when they finished a one-two between Hardik and Lait almost earned the hosts a second goal.

The third quarter was a similar story with both the team going head to head. They were more or less equal in possession, circle penetration and shots on target.

The game opened up in the fourth quarter when the Netherlands went into an ultra-attacking mode. The resultant was a flurry of penalty corners for the Men in Orange, all of which were successfully blocked out by India. However, the Netherlands eventually found the breakthrough in one of the penalty corners. Van der Weerden capitalized on the fact that India were defending the corner with only three outfield player, wrong footed Sreejesh and scored a straightforward goal. He had hit dead in the middle, but that didn’t matter as the Netherlands had to defend just over 10 minutes to go.

Their job was alleviated when Amit Rohidas lost patience and made an illegal contact with a Netherland player, earning him a yellow card. The card meant that India had to face arguably the world’s best team. Naturally, a couple of minutes after looking their man,the hosts took the brave decision of substituting goalkeeper with an outfield player.

India’s golden opportunity to take the match to penalty shootout came in the 55th minute, when Chinglensana was fouled in the Holland D.

In the following moments, Harmanpreet got two shots on the target, the second one off the rebound. But the Netherlands, managed to cling on to their lead and ultimately win the game. This was the tenth time that the European team have made it to the last four.

The 3-time champion have now booked an enticing match against Australia in the semifinals, which will also be a rematch of last World Cup’s summit clash.

As for the hosts, their wait for a World Cup trophy continues. They had last managed to enter the last four back in 1975. A consolation of sorts for India came after the match as Surinder Kumar was adjudged the man of the match after putting some exquisite defending performance.

Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya is the Head of Content at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to all the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in Civil Engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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