In what has been a forgettable tournament for India so far, on Wednesday, they will face Belgium in the quarter-final of the Hockey World League Final. Belgium, who are the top-ranked team in Europe and third in the world, are yet to taste defeat or a draw in Bhubaneshwar.
India on the other hand are yet to register a win after suffering two losses and a draw in the group stage of the tournament.
Belgium on a high
Belgium have topped their group with three wins out of three. They have been in red hot form – smashing 11 goals and conceding just two. They have been sensational in defence, keeping two clean sheets that too against Spain and Netherlands.
Belgium conceded two goals in their first game, which was against Argentina, the reigning Olympic champions. In their final game against Netherlands, Belgium won 3-0. Against Spain, they were at their ruthless best scoring five goals.
Belgium also have two of the top goal scorers in the league at their disposal. Defender Loick Luypaert and striker Tom Boon have been in sensational form for Belgium. While Luypaert has scored six goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick against Spain, Boon has scored two goals so far in the league. Their goalkeepers Vincent Vanasch and Jeremy Gucassoff have been exceptional too.
India face stern test
On the other hand, India have had a completely opposite campaign compared to Belgium. In three games so far, India are yet to register a win. They drew their first game against defending champions Australia 1-1. However, after that, they lost against England 3-2 and then were outclassed by Germany 2-0. India have conceded six goals in the tournament already and have scored just three.
Clearly, India have their task cut out for them against Belgium. India’s penalty corner conversion has been below par throughout the tournament. They have had 13 penalty corner chances so far and have converted just two of them, which is a mere 15.38 per cent.
Luypaert alone has scored in five penalty corners. Boon also has scored via penalty corner for Belgium. Together they have eight goals amongst themselves, five more than India. The other Belgium players to watch out for are Amaury Keusters, Florent Van Aubel and Cedric Charlier.
India were watching from the sidelines as their opponents outclassed Netherlands. On Wednesday, Manpreet Singh and his men will be taking on the most strongest team in the competition and they have to execute their plans to perfection if they are to see themselves in the semi-finals.