Having lost twice to Belgium last year, India look to turn the tables on them in their own backyard at today's Hockey World League semi-final encounter at Antwerp
Antwerp (Belgium): India will hoping to beard the Red Lions, as Belgium are called, in their own den when the two teams clash in the semi-finals of the Fintro Hockey World League at the KHC Dragons Stadium today. In the other semi-final, Australia, who beat Ireland will meet Great Britain, who kept Pakistan out of last four
India captain Sardar Singh warms up with his teammate Gurbaj Singh (left) during a training session. Pic/AFP
Buoyed by two superb penalty corner conversions by Jasjit Singh, India scraped past the fighting Malaysians 3-2 to set up a clash with Belgium, who fought till the end before winning 5-4 against France.
'Happy with progress'
Coach Paul Van Ass and skipper Sardar Singh are happy with the progress so far and now look forward to the semi-finals. Van Ass said he is happy to play Belgium. "Belgium suits our game, they have a structure, we don't have to search where they are going and where the ball is going. They are 'there' as they have a structure. It is better for us to play European teams that have structure," he said.
He added: "Asian teams are more difficult to play because they play with short quick passes and show lot of individual skills."
Mixed results for India
Last year India had mixed results with Belgium, who are ranked No 4 in the world as against India's position at No 9. At the Hero Hockey World League Finals held in New Delhi in early 2014, India lost 1-2 and then again at the World Cup, India went down 2-3 in The Hague.
But at the Hero Champions Trophy in December India beat Belgium 4-2. "That quality of coming back, it is very strong now. It was not always there. We came back against France (after being 2-2); we came back against Pakistan (after being 1-2) and we did well against Australia in the second half (after being 0-3 down in first and ended 2-6)," said Van Ass.