A combative India muffed five penalty corners in the fag end and went down fighting 1-2 to the Netherlands in their fourth Pool B match of the Olympic men’s hockey competition here today.
With six points from four matches, India is at third place and will play Canada in the last game of the pool. Assured of a quarter-final berth, India will end up third in the poll if it wins against Canada.
For all their early exuberance, the Dutch’s frustration was rising as they were not able to get a breakthrough. However, as the second session opened, the Dutch earned their first penalty corner but Mink Van Der Meerden failed to beat goal keeper Sreejesh, but on the rebound Rogier Hoffman struck to give them the lead in the 32nd minute (1-0).
India defended deep in the closing stages of the third quarter, though SV Sunil and Raghunath were shown a yellow card each, leaving India down to nine men.
The Dutch would take full advantage of being a man up in the final quarter and stormed through with a series of penalty corners. Sreejesh stood strong, saving three in a row, before Van Der Meerden scored to give them the lead with six minutes of the game left (2-1).
After the game, captain Sreejesh was not happy with the result. “We muffed our chances. We can’t look at it as five PCs, it’s just one taken five times. This is the difference, we should convert in the dying minutes. I wasn’t surprised, it was a strategy. We needed to put pressure with an extra player and it worked, We earned 6 PC in the last five minutes.
“We are in the same position. We haven’t gone down. Winning two matches is crucial, rest is bonus. That will decide where you stand in the pool. It is better to win as many matches as possible.”
“We controlled the game well, we got opportunities. When we had nine players on the field, even then we controlled the game well. We could not convert in the end, we should have drawn the game. Like in the match against Germany, a small error cost us the game,” he added.