Indian women’s hockey team suffers second straight loss to Belgium

Antwerp  (Belgium): The Indian women’s hockey team on Saturday lost to Belgium 1-2 — its back-to-back defeat to the home side — as its European leg of the FIH Pro League further slipped into chaos.

The Indian women’s team, under new coach Harendra Singh and captain Salima Tete, were beaten 0-2 by Belgium on Thursday after opening its campaign with a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Argentina on Wednesday.

Belgium were ahead 2-0 at half-time with goals from Ambre Ballenghien (14th minute) and Vanessa Blockmans (20th). Both the Belgium goals came from penalty corners.

Contrary to the result, the Indians started the match on an aggressive note and won an early penalty corner, but couldn’t capitalise on it.

However, the visitors continued to press Belgium, which initially struggled to keep possession and relied on counter-attacks. India’s defence stood tall in the first two quarters, denying the hosts any scoring opportunities.

Belgium won a penalty corner towards the end of the first quarter, but the effort was saved by veteran India goalkeeper Savita without much difficulty.

In the second quarter, Belgium increased pressure with brisk passes and constant attacks.

But the Indians absorbed the pressure well, shifting the tempo in their favour by maintaining possession and making quick passes, which allowed them to test Belgium’s defence a couple of times but in vain as the deadlock remained at half-time.

Belgium came out all guns blazing after the change of ends and as took the lead through Alexia four minutes into the third quarter.

Two minutes later, Dewaet struck again to double Belgium’s lead.

Down 0-2, India upped their ante and even won a penalty corner towards the end of the penultimate quarter, but failed to make the most of it. In the fourth quarter, India made early advances and tested Belgium’s defense rigorously, but the hosts successfully defended their lead.

Despite maintaining possession and making regular circle entries, India couldn’t find the back of the net India will play Belgium again in their next match on Saturday.