INDIA let history slip out of its hands with a heartbreaking quarter-final defeat against the Netherlands in the men’s hockey World Cup last Thursday (14), a result which left the young players of the team crying on the pitch.
A well-oiled Indian unit had raised the hopes of making the semi-finals for the first time since 1975, but the Dutch side broke a million hearts by coming from behind to knock out the hosts 2-1 in the last-eight clash in Bhubaneswar.
India took the lead in the 12th minute through Akashdeep Singh before Thierry Brinkman drew parity for Netherlands five seconds before the end of the first quarter.
After a hard-fought third quarter, Netherlands scored the winner in the 50th minute when Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner.
The defeat ended India’s long cherished dream of lifting the trophy only for the second time after its lone triumph in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur.
Indian coach Harendra Singh blamed poor umpiring for the defeat and was charged by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as a result.
“If they (umpires) don’t want to improve, we will continue to face these type of results,” he said at the postmatch press conference.
“We have lost two major tournaments this year because of umpiring. Two times we got a card when we hadn’t done anything. But when it happened against us, they (umpires) said nothing.
“I except both teams to be treated equally. One wrong decision can ruin your preparation of four-six years.”
India captain Manpreet added: “The team put in all the effort, but it didn’t happen. I am happy that all the boys gave their 100 per cent.”
Olympic silver medallists Belgium beat three-time champions Netherlands via a penalty shootout in the final last Sunday (16).