Hockey: Lakra still unfit, doubtful for tomorrow's game vs Belgium

Bhubaneswar: Senior Indian defender Birendra Lakra is a doubtful starter in tomorrow's crucial quarterfinal clash against fourth-ranked Belgium as he is yet to recover from his back injury, said India's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans.

Lakra, who experienced the problem after India's 2-4 defeat against Argentina match, has also missed the last their last Pool B match against the Netherlands, which the home team won 3-2 to register their first win over the Dutch in 18 years.

"Birendra didn't play yesterday and he hardly trained today. So he is still a concern. Chances are that he may not play tomorrow. Apart from him, there are no other injuries.

All the other boys are fit," Oltmans told reporters on the eve of their quarterfinal clash at the Kalinga Stadium here today. In Belgium, India face a tough opponent tomorrow but Oltmans said they are confident of a good result.

"In every match, we have a chance. What we have to do is execute our plans. Defensively, Belgium is very strong. They are a very good defending side and they are deadly in converting small chances. We know their structure, we know how they play. It is a very difficult game there is no doubt about it. But we will try to produce a good result," he said.

"We are looking forward to it. We have confidence but at the same time we know it will be tough. Belgium has really improved in the last couple of years. It is an opportunity for us to show we can compete consistently at the top level. It is a challenge for us to make that happen tomorrow."

For Oltmans, who is doubling up as coach in the tournament after Terry Walsh's exit, the victory over the Netherlands is a thing of the past.

"The tournament is not about winning a pool game against Holland. The tournament did not end yesterday it started yesterday. What we were aiming for was improvement in our game execution and I think we succeeded in that for a big part," the legendary Dutchman said.

India captain Sardar Singh said the confidence of the team is definitely on a high after yesterday's win.

"We started well but we need to work on our communication. But we gained a lot of confidence after the win over Holland. It was a good game. The coordination among the players is good," he said.

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