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Disaster in Hockey World Cup 2018: India hopes to give the blues to Belgium

By PP Team 
Updated Date

India is doing really good, it’s very proud moment for India because now days our National sport Hockey is being the news sensation for every news channel.

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When the World Cup opened in BHUBANESWAR on Wednesday, Belgium began like they wanted to whack life out of Canada. It proved counterproductive, in fact almost destructive. Instead of building, they tried to scoot through moves and ended up scoring only twice, and just one more than the The Red Caribou who almost snatched an upset draw. The lesson was loud and clear: measure twice, cut once. And if they haven’t learnt it, the price could be a defeat against India on Sunday and a tougher road to the quarterfinals.

When the Red Lions’ skipper, Thomas Briels, talked to Timesofindia.com a week before the World Cup, he made his team’s pool-stage plans pretty apparent.

Briels had no doubt that the result against India will decide who tops Pool C.

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“The match against India is going to be really important to top the pool. If we draw, goal difference will be important. We have to consider that while playing against South Africa and Canada. More goals give you little advantage going into the match against India.”

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That day has arrived, and going by Briels’ advantage theory, India’s 5-0 win gives hosts the edge — both in confidence and in numbers.

But a win for either team will settle any leftover jangling nerves, with a top position in the pool and a direct entry to the quarters virtually assured.

No. 2 and 3 from every pool go through the crossover games to win a place in the last-eight stage.

“I think our team doesn’t depend on one person. If we play good, then every game somebody will make a difference. We have variations on penalty corners and our structure is good,” Briels said.

But that ‘structure’ got a little exposed — especially after frustration crept into the Belgian game when their haste made waste and allowed Canada to run them close.

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Belgium’s 16 shots at goal in 24 circle entries resulted in just two successful attempts.

But recent form and history is with the No.3-ranked visitors when it comes to facing No. 5 India, though they had lost to the hosts in their last match at the Kalinga Stadium here in the quarters of the Hockey World League Finals last year.

However, in 19 matches since 2013, the Red Lions have dominated with 13 wins and only five defeats. The solitary draw (1-1) happened in their previous meeting at the Champions Trophy earlier this year.

In World Cups, the two teams have met thrice so far, with India winning on two occasions and Belgium once.

But that doesn’t bother Harendra Singh, who has urged Indian supporters to not look back at the past.

“If we keep reminding ourselves of the negative things, it’s not good…What happened is history. Our problem is we talk about the past a lot and not think about the present. We have taken this team out of that thought process,” he said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

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A lot of the credit for India rediscovering their momentum after the Asian Games disappointment goes to the way Akashdeep Singh has carried the team in his new role as a link-man.

With twinkle feat, the senior Indian pro feeds off the defence and midfield, sneaking into holes in the opposition half and providing cut-throat assists to the young Indian strikers.

Most importantly, he has adopted the change comfortably.

With a lot already written and discussed about that move, Belgium will come prepared with their plans to control Akashdeep, most probably by leaving a marker on him throughout the 60 minutes.

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