There is no doubt that Indian men's hockey team's road to the Olympics has been tough. Especially in the last 12 years, from not qualifying for the 2008 Olympics to making it to the semifinals in 2021, India has weathered the toughest journey to get to where they are. We take a look at their journey over the tournament to the bronze medal match.
India qualified by beating Russia in the 2019 Olympic qualifiers held in Bhubaneswar. They won by an aggregate score of 11-3 over two legs.
India kicked off their Tokyo Olympics campaign with an intense 3-2 victory over the Kiwis. It was the heroics of Harmanpreet and Rupinder Pal Singh that brought the much needed first match confidence. Despite being pegged back twice, India managed to keep their nerve and finish with the targeted victory.
It was thought to be India's day when they went up by a goal in the second minute. Australia however are never ones to take lightly and in the 2nd quarter, they scored 3 goals in 5 minutes. The final score was 7-1 and it was a complete disaster for India as far as everything was concerned.
Simranjeet and Rupinderpal Singh stepped up to give India a comfortable victory over Spain. It was a much-needed victory after the drubbing by Australia, but India was never going to lose this one given that their position in the table had to be 2nd in order to comfortably make it to the quarter finals.
This was supposed to be the toughest groups stage match after Australia given that Argentina won the Gold at Rio 2016. It did seem like it would either be a stalemate between the two teams or would end up with a narrow score line.
India managed to ease through with a 3-1 victory through sublime penalty corner conversions and goals scored by Vivek Prasad, Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh. India was quite wasteful throughout the match but were defensively solid.
The final groups stage match saw a few key players rested such as Rupinder Pal Singh. It seemed like an easy game for India but there were a few nervous moments given that Japan was playing for their pride.
The final score was 5-3 for India but not before Japan had also fought to keep the score at 2-1 and 3-2. The Indian defense had a lot of work on their hands but at the end of it, managed to get by.
The much-awaited quarter-final ended with India winning 3-1. It was no ordinary match despite Inia having a 2-0 lead. The match went into the third quarter when Great Britain won a PC and scored in the last 3 seconds. It was a nervy 4th quarter as Sreejesh kept India alive and it was a goal in the 57th minute that brought India a 2 goal lead and took them to the semi-final.
It wasn't to be a dream run to the final as India suffered a defeat at the hands of Belgium. They were leading on two different occasions but were pegged back and Belgium took the lead with constant pressure and PC's. The final score was 5-2 in favour of Belgium.