Indian men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid rued the fact that his players let go of the momentum after taking the lead in their semi-final defeat against Belgium in Tokyo on Tuesday.
India’s dream of reaching their first medal in 41 years ended in the last-four with a heartbreaking 5-2 defeat against the world champions. Alexander Hendrickx scored a hat-trick while Loick Luypaert and John-John Dominique added a goal each to the score to send Belgium to their second successive Olympic final in men’s hockey.
India, who had grabbed a stunning lead in the first quarter thanks to goals from Harmanpreet and Mandeep Singh, conceded 1 in the second and two in the final 15 minutes to lose the match.
“We created enough opportunities to win the game. They were always going to come back, Belgians are the best team in the world with Australia. You’ve got to keep building on that score but we didn’t do that, we had opportunities but we didn’t take them and paid the price for not getting that scoreboard pressure on.
“These days teams are more switched on when the opposition has 10 players on the pitch and they took advantage of that. Hockey is about gaining momentum and keeping it. Maybe it was the green card, they scored when that happened.
“We had the momentum but we lost it, against a team like Belgium you have to get that back. These teams you have to capitalise on chances, unfortunately we didn’t. We didn’t put the last penalty away corner so it was hard to get that momentum back,” Graham Reid said after the match.
India will now play the loser of the second semi-final between Australia and Germany in the bronze medal match on August 5 and Reid said the team has already shifted focus to that match.
“Don’t think it matters now, there’s a little bit of revenge for Australia and also with Germany. To come third you have to be the third best team and we have to beat whichever team we come up against. We don’t have a preference.
“We have started (focussing about bronze medal match) already. I’m really pushing the fact that its a team first mentality and if you are feeling sorry then you are feeling sorry for yourself. Thats my approach, understanding that to be a team member we need to head up and get this bronze medal,” Reid said.