It was a thrilling game of hockey and the home team had to dig deep to pull off a come-from-behind win over a much-fancied Dutch side. This victory gave India a bronze, their first medal after a long gap of 33 years in a major international hockey tournament.
It was a foremost test of character for the likes of Sardar Singh, PR Sreejesh and Co. as they found themselves 2-0 down going into half-time. India coach Roelant Oltmans echoed an entire nation’s sentiments earlier in the tournament saying that it was high time India won a medal at a major tournament. The wait seemed to be extending at the halfway stage and the home side needed to show more spirit.
And they came out fighting! Ramandeep Singh pumped two goals and Rupinder Pal Singh added another as India stormed to a 3-2 lead with 9 minutes on the clock. Mink van der Weeden equalized and Rupinder responded with his second. Akashdeep Singh got India’s fifth, which looked enough. However, van der Weeden completed a stunning hat-trick to force the match into a nail-biting penalty shootout and showed they world’s 2nd ranked side for nothing.
In the shootout, Rupinder, Birendra Lakra and Sardar Singh scored while the Dutch managed to score only two out of five attempts as India ended up victors in a truly pulsating encounter. Coach Oltmans reserved special praise for Sardar and goalkeeper Sreejesh for their contribution throughout the tournament.
Captain Sardar Singh was understandably pleased, "After 33 years it means a huge deal for all of us. We have been working on tiny details on the field and it showed today. But we will pick on the positive from this tournament. We will celebrate the medal and focus on the Olympics."