India last won the Olympic medal in Hockey in 1980. Since then, India has never reached Semis and after 41 years, India has reached the semifinals in Hockey Olympics. India which was relying on penalties scored field goals today and advanced to the semifinals for the first time in the last 41 years. The Indian team was determined and took a 2-0 lead which was maintained for the 1st 2 quarters. Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh scored goals for India in the 7th and 16th minutes of the match. Great Britain’s lone goal came after they got a penalty in the 45th minute of the match.
It was Sam Ward who scored that goal and was later substituted. India was the most successful team in Olympics till 1980. By then the hockey was played on grass and ever since it shifted to the mat, India has never been able to surpass the quarterfinal stage. India is the most successful team as India has 8 medals in Hockey and no other team has ever won that many medals in Hockey. However, this is India’s best chance to better 8 as India is just one win away from a medal.
A country that has produced legends like Balbir Singh Senior and Major Dhyan Chand, it was such a painful sight for Indian fans to see their team’s debacle in Hockey after 1980. India will be up against World Champions Belgium who has another story of its own. Belgium couldn’t qualify for the Olympics in 2004 as they were outside the top 12 teams.
The last decade though belonged to them as they won silver at Rio Olympics and won the Hockey world cup in 2018. In their semifinal, match against Spain they were behind 1 goal but scored 3 on a trot and won the match easily. They are arguably one of the best teams in the competition and also gold medal top contender in Hockey. India has a huge task in front of them but the courage that the Indian team has shown will make its opponent bring something new to the table. Manpreet Singh and his team have played their heart out and will go all out against Belgium.
A win there will ensure a medal but if they lose, they will have to play the bronze medal match with the team that loses in Australia vs Argentina’s match. India is currently ranked 5th while Belgium is 2nd in Hockey rankings. Belgium will start as the firm favorite but hopefully, 1.4 billion prayers will do some magic for the Men’s hockey team who are in the race for a medal after such a long time.
One word for Indian Goal Keeper P R Sreejesh who has made some of the finest stops and made sure that the Indian team doesn’t concede too many goals. It was Australia who scored 7 goals against them but otherwise, he has been clinical with his defense. One thing that India might be looking at is that they haven’t converted the penalty corners and against Belgium, they will create all the changes that come their way. Fingers crossed as the semifinals will be played on 3rd August.