Bhubaneswar: The whole atmosphere was charged up as India and Belgium clashed in Pool C of Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 at Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.
The closely contested match, however, ended in 2-2 draw. A win would have mean direct entry into the quarter finals for either team.
Quarter 1 was disappointing for the all-excited home crowd, as Belgium, with its speed and good defence, did not let India score a goal. The Red Lions’ Alexander Hendrickx helped his team take an early lead in the match shifting the pressure on India. He fired a penalty corner through the legs of Indian goalkeeper P R Sreejesh in the eighth minute.
Quarter 2 was intense with both the teams trying hard to hit a goal or get a penalty corner. The crowd cheered tirelessly for India to score a goal. N K Jha, a spectator, who was witnessing it for the first time, expressed his joy when India finally hit a goal in the third quarter.
“I was hoping for India’s win but draw isn’t bad either. I am happy with how the teams played. The effort was evident,” he said.
After several missed chances, Harmanpreet Singh scored the equaliser for India off a penalty stroke in the 39th minute before Simranjeet Singh put them in the lead in the 47th.
However, Simon Gougnard broke the hearts of home crowd by scoring a field goal in the 56th minute as the World No.3 Belgium avoided a scare against an upbeat Indian team.
The fourth quarter was all chasing, defending and attacking as both the teams were looking for a chance to take the lead.
Ashok Sahoo, a spectator, who seemed rather disappointed, kept cheering till the end. “I think we must acknowledge their hard work. I am happy!” he expressed.
Likewise, an enthusiastic gang of girls, several young kids and men screamed at the top of their voices as the match drew to a close.