India’s men’s hockey team lost their sixth game out of six at the Olympics yesterday when a 3-2 defeat to South Africa condemned them to 12th and last place in the tournament.
It was the first time that the eight-time champions had gone through an Olympics without winning a match.
“We keep making the same mistakes all the time,” said Sardar Singh, one of the team’s star players. “We have to be aggressive. It was emotionally tough conceding the second goal. We have to be tough in the circle in future. We have to improve a lot. It’s very disappointing. The whole team has been mentally affected.”
Andrew Cronje gave South Africa an eighth-minute lead before Sandeep Singh levelled six minutes later. Timothy Drummond, in the 33rd minute, and Lloyd Norris-Jones, after 64 minutes, gave South Africa a two-goal cushion before Dharmavir Singh reduced the margin for India in the 66th.
Meanwhile, Belgium scored their first Olympic win over Spain since the Montreal Games 36 years ago as two goals from Tom Boon helped them to a 5-2 win and a final placing of fifth. The victory seemed likely from the second minute when Jerome Dekeyser dived in front of the goal-keeper to make a clever deflection from a short corner and put the Belgians in the lead. Spain may still have been suffering from the disappointment of two late penalty corner decisions being overturned as they pushed for the goal against Great Britain which would have earned them a semi-final place.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.