LONDON: A rejuvenated Indian males’s hockey crew will look to hold on its advantageous kind from the house leg and keep its supremacy on the prime of the standings when it begins the Europe sojourn of the FIH Professional League in opposition to Olympic champions Belgium right here on Friday.
Through the European leg of the event, India may even tackle the Netherlands and Argentina within the Netherlands at Eindhoven.
India overcame a disappointing World Cup marketing campaign earlier this 12 months to climb to the highest of the 2022-23 Professional League desk with an unbeaten document in opposition to world champions Germany and mighty Australia.
The Indians secured three outright wins from the Rourkela leg, whereas additionally profitable a shootout bonus level within the fourth match in opposition to the Kookaburras.
India are at present main the desk with 19 factors from 5 outright victories from eight matches and two from shootouts.
The Harmanpreet Singh-led aspect will look to hold on with their profitable momentum when it takes on Belgium on Friday and Nice Britain on Saturday within the Lee Valley Stadium right here.
Hosts Nice Britain shall be driving on their current success in Christchurch, New Zealand the place they gained 5-2 and 6-1 in opposition to New Zealand, and in addition beat Australia 2-1 and 3-3 (4-2 SO) to collect 19 factors from eight video games with 4 outright wins and three from shoot-outs.
Belgium, alternatively, will look to climb up the charts from their present seventh place. They’ve to this point performed simply 4 matches on this version of the Professional League and have gained a match every in opposition to Argentina and Germany.
The Professional League matches in Europe may even be the primary actual check for India’s new chief coach Craig Fulton, and it stays to seen how he suits into the high-pressure job after taking up from Australian Graham Reid, who guided the aspect to a historic bronze medal on the Tokyo Olympics.
India final performed Nice Britain within the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics, which they 3-1.
“Although we have not performed Nice Britain frequently, we’re conscious of the crew and the gamers, and what they will carry to the desk, significantly whereas taking part in in entrance of their residence crowd,” stated India vice-captain Hardik Singh.
Since 2016 Rio Olympics, India have performed Belgium in 19 matches of which Belgium have gained 9 and India eight, with two matches ending in attracts.
India final performed Belgium in Antwerp final 12 months, the place they misplaced 2-3 and gained 3-3 (5-4 SO) within the earlier version of the Professional League.
Harmanpreet stated cannot wait to resume the rivalry in opposition to Belgium.
“As a crew, India have constructed a wholesome rivalry in opposition to Belgium significantly over the past 5-6 years. We take pleasure in taking part in this opponent and the crew is all the time pumped as much as do nicely in opposition to them,” he stated.
“In case you have a look at the stats, we now have all the time produced shut encounters in opposition to Belgium. The thoughts body that we’re in in the mean time, we’re assured of one more good present in opposition to them,” added Harmanpreet, who additionally occurs to be the very best scorer within the League to this point with 11 targets.