Updated May 26th, 2024 at 00:31 IST

Indian women's hockey team suffers second straight loss to Belgium in FIH Pro League

This was the Indian women's team's seventh defeat on the trot against Belgium in all international matches.

Representative Image | Image:AP
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The Indian women's hockey team on Saturday lost to Belgium 1-2 -- its back-to-back defeat to the home side -- as its European leg of the FIH Pro League further slipped into chaos.

The Indian women's team, under new coach Harendra Singh and captain Salima Tete, were beaten 0-2 by Belgium on Thursday after opening its campaign with a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Argentina on Wednesday.

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Belgium were ahead 2-0 at half-time with goals from Ambre Ballenghien (14th minute) and Vanessa Blockmans (20th). Both the Belgium goals came from penalty corners.

Kumari Sangita pulled one back for India in the 34th minute with a field goal. The fourth quarter did not yield any goal for both sides.

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Belgium earned three penalty corners in the match while India got none.

Belgium began the game with a full-court press, making it difficult for the Indians to play out from the back.

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The Indians withstood the initial pressure and began dominating possession, while Belgium continued to press, looking for a chance to score on the counter-attack.

The pressure resulted in a penalty corner for Belgium, and Ballenghien stepped up to power the ball past Savita Punia into goal, putting her team ahead as the first quarter drew to a close.

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In the second quarter, Belgium employed the same tactic while India attempted to stitch a few passes together in the opposition half.

Five minutes into the quarter, Belgium’s high press resulted in another penalty corner, and Blockmans pounced on Louise Versavel’s deflected shot to score the second goal of the game.

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India reacted to the goal through Tete, who turned on a sixpence in midfield, blazed to the right corner, and unleashed a rocket on goal, which was saved by Belgian keeper Elodie Picard.

India struggled to play out of their half as Belgium continued to close down their passing lanes, forcing the Indian defence into a scramble to keep it 2-0 heading into half-time.

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Belgium further intensified the pressure in the third quarter.

However, Jyoti bypassed the press to find Deepika, whose forward pass deflected to Sangita in the circle. She flashed it into Picard’s goal to bring India back into the game.

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After the goal, India occasionally started to beat the Belgian press, but the home team was quick to threaten the Indian defence. They won the ball high up the pitch and forced Savita into action.

Delphine Marien, who was later named player of the match, remained a constant threat down the right wing for Belgium, but the Indian defence stood firm, and the quarter ended 2-1 in Belgium’s favour.

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The final quarter saw India turn over the ball in their half, but Belgium failed to capitalize. The game became stretched as both teams looked to score quickly towards the end.

India created a chance to score through Deepika, but her shot was saved, and Sangita snatched the chance to score from the deflection but was not able to convert it.

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Savita had to stay alert in goal as the Belgian forwards constantly won the ball and threatened to score.

With five minutes left in the quarter, Belgium earned a penalty corner, but the ball sailed wide of the post.

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India grew into the game, pushing ahead in search of an equalizer. Deepika was handed a chance to score in the final moments, but the Belgian defence rushed to subdue the chaos in front of the goal and sealed a 2-1 victory.

This was the Indian women's team's seventh defeat on the trot against Belgium in all international matches.

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India will play against Argentina in their next match here on Sunday. 

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Published May 26th, 2024 at 00:31 IST