India beaten 0-4 as defence succumbs against Belgium

Antwerp: India suffered a 0-4 defeat as their defence succumbed under the pressure mounted by an aggressive Belgium side in the semifinal of the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals at the KHC Dragons Stadium here today.

Livewire striker Florent van Aubel scored three goals for Belgium, whose organised game cut out the chances of India’s breakaway counters posing a serious threat to their citadel.

Opening Belgium’s account in the second minute on a defensive lapse at the top of the Indian circle, van Aubel went on to score two goals in the second half on penalty corner rebound to dash India’s hopes of a comeback.

The other goal for the home team, backed by vociferous support from the galleries, came from Tanguy Cosyns.

In the final on Sunday, Belgium will play the winner of the second semifinal between World champions Australia and Great Britain, while India will go into the bronze medal contest.

All four semifinalists from this World League Semifinals are secured passage to the 2016 Olympics, with India’s qualification assured from their Asian Games gold medal in Incheon.

A lapse by Jasjeet Singh in controlling the ball on top of the circle in the second minute led to Belgium taking an early lead. The Indian lost the bouncy ball that Felix Denayer picked up on the right flank and sent a square pass for van Aubel, who sent a firm reverse shot into the board.

Six minutes later, Belgium were two goals ahead on their first penalty corner. Arthur van Doren’s penalty corner shot was padded by goalkeeper P R Sreejesh and the rebound went to Cosyns, who scored with a firm shot along the carpet.

Stunned by the early reversals, India tried to come back into the game and made their first attack in the ninth minute, but the Belgian defenders were very well organised and thwarted a good crack at the goal.

In the next minute, India brought in lanky defender Rupinder Pal Singh, who was injured in warm-up games here ahead of this tournament and made no appearance in the preliminary round matches. Rupinder played for an extended period today, and was on the pitch to take the three penalty corners India forced in the second session, but shot just wide of either post in two attempts to shoot into the corner.

A good opening came India’s way in the 19th minute when Satbir Singh snatched the ball from van Doren and went into circle, but his reverse drive could not beat goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.