India Draw Confidence From Champions Trophy Record Against Belgium
Mandeep Singh celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates during the FIH Men's Hero Hockey Champions Trophy 2016 . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
London: With a win over hosts Great Britain in their previous game and a formidable record against Belgium in Champions Trophy encounters, the Indian team is exuding confidence going into Monday's match at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre.
India enjoyed a good record in head-to-head matches against Belgium, but since 2011 the tide has turned in favour of the European rivals.
Called the Red Lions, the Belgian team has been on a winning spree against India since the final of the 2011 Champions Challenge in Johannesburg, a victory that earned them their first Champions Trophy qualification.
India's only success in eight matches since then have been the two Champions Trophy encounters in 2012 (Melbourne) and 2014 (Bhubaneswar).
On both occasions, the Indians pulled off upset victories over the fancied Belgians to make the semifinals in the earlier format of the Champions Trophy, which has been abandoned this time as the event returned to its original six-nation event.
India's 2-1 victory over Great Britain yesterday and the 3-3 draw with Olympic champions Germany on Friday have given them four points from two matches, putting them at par on points with World champions Australia, who last night defeated South Korea 4-2 in a fast-paced encounter.
Australia had earlier played a goalless draw against Great Britain.
Belgium, ranked No. 5, are placed two spots above India in the current world rankings and both teams have brought some of the junior players to this tournament.
While India are without key player Sardar Singh, Belgium have felt the absence of crack striker Tom Boon in their two outings here.
Like India, Belgium too squandered a two-goal lead against Germany to be held 4-4, but it is the 0-2 loss in their opening outing against South Korea that has rankled them more. Wayward shooting by their strikers is worrying the Belgians.
In Boon's absence, the Belgians have leaned heavily upon captain John-John Dohmen, and key players Sebastian Dockier and Arthur van Doren.
While the Indian defence yesterday managed to keep the British strikers away from their goal, the strikers have been squandering chances.
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