By Vivek Prabhakar Singh Rio de Janerio, Aug 15 : Disappointed with the team's heartbreaking defeat against Belgium in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics, Indian men's hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans has insisted that his boys need to learn how to be consistent at the big stage and compete with the best in the world.
Speaking to ANI, Oltmans said that it was heartbreaking for the players as they have been working very hard for this prestigious quadrennial event.
"After every defeat I am disappointed, but especially this time as it was the quarter-finals and it means the end of our dreams of winning a medal.
It is heartbreaking for my players. It is very difficult for them. They had been working very hard to come back on a level where we can compete with the best sides in the world.
But to do that consistently on the right moments, is the next step we have to learn," Oltmans said. He, however, said that he was proud of the team for their performance, and hoped that the fans would recognize what the team has been doing and would support the Indian hockey in the upcoming years.
Talking about the shortcomings of the quarter-finals clash against Belgium, the Indian coach said that it was the defensive approach, especially in the second quarter, which led to their downfall.
"We had the youngest average age of all the teams participating at this year's Olympics. So, it shows that the future is still bright for this team," he said. The Indian men's hockey team squandered a one-goal lead to go down 1-3 against Belgium in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics yesterday.
In a high speed encounter, it was India who had the first real attempt at goal as Sardar Singh's deflection forced a sharp save from Vincent Vanasch in Belgium's goal.
Belgium soon started dominating the possession and exerting their influence on the game, Sebastien Dockier drawing a superb save from Sreejesh in the 14th minute of the quarter.
The save was to prove crucial. India slotted home the opener for the game a minute later. A Manpreet Singh long ball found Akashdeep deep inside the circle in front of Belgium's goal. The striker smartly deflected it past Vanasch to give India the lead going into the first break. Belgium came out stronger in the second quarter, and the game soon settled into a defence vs attack style.
India defended deep looking to play on the counter. Akashdeep soon had a chance to double his tally for the game, taking a smart pass at the top of the circle, and turning away from his marker.
His reverse hit, powerfully struck, went just wide of the post. Soon Sreejesh was called into action, saving a shot from John-John Dohmen. In the final minute Belgium had their first PC, blocked away by the Indian rushers to go into halftime with India leading 1-0.
Belgium were barraging the Indian goal from the restart, Sreejesh at his best, keeping India in the game.
The highlight of the saves was where he padded away a one-on-one against Thomas Briels and then spread himself big to deny the rebound.
Briels was forced scoop the ball over the goalkeeper but his attempt went wide. In the 34th minute, Belgium got the goal, Dockier the scorer with a strong hit from the top of the box to give Belgium the equaliser.
Sreejesh pulled off another superb save, this time from Emmanuel Stockbroekx before pulling off a save from Belgium's second PC.
In heartbreaking fashion, India conceded the goal in the final minute of the quarter, after a reverse hit cross found its way into the circle.
Dockier dived in full stretch, deflecting the ball past Sreejesh into the top corner to give Belgium the lead.
Belgium scored a third in the final quarter via Tom Boon to extend their lead. India were soon forced into pulling off Sreejesh and play with eleven field players going on the attack.
They would have their chances, but Belgium held out to win the game and proceed to the semi finals..