Bhubaneswar, 10 December 2014: With the excitement among hockey lovers in Bhubaneswar rising high for the quarter-final clashes for the Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014, Belgium and host India are all set to book a place in the semi-finals of the prestigious tournament at Kalinga Stadium. With a victory against Pakistan and two draws against Australia and England respectively, the Belgian team feels encouraged by their overwhelming performance for the 2nd position in Pool A. On the other hand, the Indian team is also heading for the clash with high spirit after their win against Pool B leader The Netherlands beating them 3-2 in a high voltage game played yesterday which left the 9 time champions of Champions Trophy stunned.
So far, Belgium has been raising the excitement levels of the crowd by giving a tough time to its competitors in the tournament. Players like Thomas Briels and Tanguy Cosyns became the centre of attraction after they steered their team to win against Pakistan by scoring one goal each in the closely contested match. On the other hand, with an outstanding victory against the 2012 FIH Champions Trophy Silver medallists The Netherlands in their last league match, Team India will strive to continue their spirited performance against Belgium by beating them tomorrow. Players like Gurbaj Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh will be the centre of the team’s game-plan and will be supported by experienced players like SV Sunil, VR Raghunath and Captain Sardar Singh. Vice-captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will again play an important role to hold the defence of the team and ensure the opponents taste the pill of the high and strong wall of the Indian goalie.
India’s clash against Belgium in the World Cup will be fresh in their minds when they lost the match in the dying moments of the game, but this time around the team is confident they will not repeat the same mistake again.
Speaking on the sidelines, Gurbaj Singh said, “We will not repeat the same mistake again. The team is working on their defence and will ensure that we give them a tough time to get through us. Also, our forwards are very strong and they will do the job of scoring the goals. We are confident of a win and a semi-final spot”.
Besides the World Cup both the teams even faced against each other in the 2012 FIH Champions Trophy where India outplayed the Belgians 1-0. With the recent performance in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the Australia Test Series, India will arrive on field with new energy and strategies to tackle the Belgium team, and play for a win to seal their place in the semi-final.
Speaking on the preparation strategies, Captain Sardar Singh said, “We are looking forward to play efficiently tomorrow and have been practicing hard for that. Also as a team, we have been building an understanding and are taking our experiences as lessons for the upcoming matches. We have improved quite a lot in terms of consistency and yesterday’s victory against The Netherlands has definitely given a boost to the confidence of the players. Belgium has been playing excellent games in the last few years, but, we are also focussed to win tomorrow against them.”
Commenting on tomorrow’s face-off against Belgium, India’s Director High Performance Roelant Oltmans said, “Tomorrow’s match is very crucial for us and it is definitely going to be a difficult game. Belgium, no doubt, is strong in defence. However, we know their structure and their style and have worked on our strategies accordingly. Yesterday’s game has motivated the players, but they also know that there’s a lot more to achieve. We will try our best to put forward an outstanding performance. The defence of the team is strong and we have to adopt different ways of approaching the circle of the opponent which are working on.”
Speaking about the clash against India tomorrow, Belgium Head Coach, Jeroen Delmee said, “Tomorrow’s match is crucial for all the teams and we are putting in our best efforts to make it to the Semi-Finals. India’s victory against The Netherlands in yesterday’s match clearly speaks of the first-rate ability of the team. The evolution of the Indian team has been incredible over the years. However, we too are confident having played well so far and have prepared ourselves based on the experiences in the last few matches of the tournament. Moreover, it has been a great experience so far playing this tournament here in India, as, the crowd is really encouraging and such exciting atmosphere always motivates the players.”
Talking about the preparations for tomorrow’s match, Belgium Captain John-John Dohmen said, “We are really excited to play in the Quarter-Finals tomorrow and have been practicing hard to give a good competition to the opponent team. We feel encouraged to play even better after having attained the 2nd position in the Pool with a good understanding in the team; we have been working on the strategies to beat the Indian team who played a beautiful and a high level game against The Netherlands. Looking forward to put up a good show tomorrow, our players are confident and focussed to win.”
It will be interesting to see the clash between the two hungry teams, who will show their best performance and hard work to register themselves as semi-finalists.
The match between India and Belgium will be played on 11 December 2014 at 1930 IST at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014 is telecasted live on Ten Sports.