The glory days of Indian hockey seem to be back. The men’s team has made history by entering the finals of the FIH Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy for the first time in 36 years.
Indian men will play Australia in the final. India managed to clinch a position in the final after hosts Great Britain held Belgium to 3-3 draw.
The draw between Great Britain and Belgium meant both of them finished behind India in the round-robin league, paving the way for India to play World champions Australia in the title encounter on Friday night.
Great Britain rallied from a two goal deficit to hold Belgium 3-3 in a cliffhanger at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre late on Thursday evening. This was after India lost 2-4 to title favourites Australia in their last round robin encounter.
Britain simply required a victory to go past India on points, while Belgium needed to win by three goals or score at least four in a two-goal victory to finish ahead of India on goal difference.
All three possibilities were within close distance until the last stages, leaving the Indian fans in the stadium on tenterhooks. Even the last British shot at the goal with five seconds left could have taken the hosts into the final, but the ball went a few centimeters wide of the post.
Australia topped the league standings with 13 points from five games, while India ended at seven points. Great Britain stood at six points and Belgium only four points.
Britain will feature in the bronze medal match with dethroned title holders Germany, who outplayed South Korea 7-0. This was Germany’s biggest win over the Koreans in international matches. Belgium will take on South Korea in the play-off for the fifth position.
The prestigious six-nation tournament has never seen India finishing in the first or the second spot. India won a bronze medal way back in 1982 in Amsterdam.
(With inputs from agencies)