Indian men's hockey team hoping to secure first Olympic medal in 41 years
- The Indian men's hockey team will have to quickly regroup after semifinal loss
- They will ace Germany in the match bronze medal playoff game
- India's last of the eight Olympic golds came way back in 1980 Moscow Games
Although the Indian men's hockey team suffered a demoralising defeat to Belgium in the semifinals, the world no. 3 side will have to regroup quickly as they face Rio Games bronze-winner Germany in the match bronze medal playoff game on Thursday in the Tokyo Olympics.
India had a defensive horror show against world champions Belgium as they succumbed to relentless pressure from the Red Lions, conceding a bulk of penalty corners throughout and losing 2-5 in the end. But come August 5, the men's hockey team will have its opportunity to secure their first Olympic medal in 41 years.
India's last of the eight Olympic golds came way back in 1980 Moscow Games.
The Belgians played to their strengths as their focus was merely on earning penalty corners, especially with the likes of tournament's highest goal-scorer Alexander Hendrickx, who scored a hat-trick, and Loick Lupaert in their ranks.
Their ploy worked to perfection as put under pressure, the Indians lost their defensive shape and conceded as many as 14 penalty corners in the match, eight in the final quarter, to lose a bright chance to secure an Olympic medal after 41 years.
Meanwhile, India will have to play to and utilise their strengths. The hockey team has an incredible lineup of drag-flickers in Rupinder Pal Singh, vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas, but they have been poor in converting their penalty corners.
Going by rankings, there is hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides as India are currently on third place and Germany on fourth.
Having lost 1-3 against Australia in the semifinals here, the Germans would be determined to prove a point.
The onus now is on the Indian defence and talismanic goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will have to be on their toes to come out triumphant against the might of Germans.
India captain Manpreet Singh has already said that he is in no mood to dwell on the semifinal result. "At least we should win a bronze medal for the nation," he said earlier.