FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2023: India Go 2-3 Down To Belgium, Virtually Out Of The Tournament

India will now require a huge favour from Canada, whom they thrashed 12-0, against a formidable Germans to give them any chance of qualifying further.

India womens junior hockey team in action against Canada in Chile

Annu's brace went in vain as India lost 2-3 to Belgium in a closely-contested Pool C match to slump to their second consecutive defeat in the FIH Junior World Cup on Saturday. (More Hockey News)

Annu (47th, 51st minutes) struck twice in a span of four minutes from a penalty corner and a penalty stroke to draw level after Belgium raced to a 2-0 lead through goals from Noa Schreurs (5th) and France de Mot (42nd).

But it was not to be India's day as Astrid Bonami scored the winner from a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute.

It was another heartbreaking loss for the Indians after they squandered a two-goal advantage to go down 3-4 to last edition's runners-up Germany on Thursday night.

The Indians had, however, started their campaign on a resounding note, registering a 12-0 win over Canada.

India are currently placed second in Pool C with three points from three games. Belgium are atop the pool with an all-win record from three matches.

Germany will play Canada in the last match of the pool later in the day.

India applied a pressing game from the onset and secured an early penalty corner, but couldn't convert the chances into goals. 

Belgium, however, not only defended solidly to deny India an early advantage but also initiated counter-attacks. This strategy paid off when Schreurs scored a remarkable field goal, granting Belgium an early lead. 

With the score in their favour, Belgium intensified the attack by frequently penetrating the circle, restricting India's chances of equalising in the opening quarter, which concluded with Belgium leading 1-0. 

Determined to turn the tide, India adopted an aggressive approach in the second quarter. Nevertheless, Belgium's steadfast defense thwarted India's attempts, preserving their 1-0 lead at halftime as the second quarter ended goalless. 

Keen to maintain their lead, Belgium prioritised ball possession in the third quarter while consistently penetrating India's circle. 

Despite their efforts, a remarkable save by Khushboo denied Belgium from furthering their advantage. However, Belgium eventually broke through as De Mot skillfully converted a penalty corner, doubling their lead. The penultimate quarter concluded 2-0 in favour of Belgium. 

In the final quarter, India started on the offensive, leading to their first goal of the match by Annu from a penalty corner, narrowing the deficit. 

Empowered by this breakthrough, India intensified their attacks, resulting in a crucial penalty stroke that Annu calmly converted, levelling the scores. But, moments later, Belgium were also awarded a penalty stroke, which was slotted past India's goalkeeper by Bonami. 

Hopeful of finding the equaliser again, India attacked relentlessly and tried hard to breach Belgium's defense but couldn't, ultimately succumbing to the defeat.

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