After making a flying start to the ongoing 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup, India will look to continue their momentum and secure a place in the knockouts when they take on world number three Belgium in their second Pool C clash at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
India are heading into the match on the back of their crushing 5-0 win over 15th ranked South Africa in the opening match of the showpiece event. Simranjeet Singh (43rd, 46th minute) scored a brace, while Mandeep Singh (10th minute), Akashdeep Singh (12th minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (45th minute) were the other goal scorers for fifth-placed India.
The Men in Blue, who have already set the tone for the rest of the tournament following their winning start, will now aim to captilize on the same.
Belgium, on the other hand, were made to work hard against minnows Canada–who are placed 11th in the world rankings–before the former eventually claimed a 2-1 victory in their Pool C match to kick start their campaign on a winning note. The third-ranked team are now standing second in the group behind the hosts on goal difference.
While eight-time Olympic champion India face much sterner test and they have to be at their absolute best against the third-ranked team, Belgium will be keen to prove a point after having an unimpressive beginning to their campaign.
The clash holds great significance as it will decide which team have the best chance to qualify directly for the quarterfinals.It is to be noted that the pool toppers from each group will earn direct entry into the last-eight.
India, led by Manpreet Singh, are eyeing to end their 43-year-long hunt for the World Cup, a title which they won only once way back in 1975 with a 2-1 win over arch-rivals Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.
Though Belgium have never picked the prestigious tophy, they are expected to give a good competition for this year’s title after having finished as the silver-medallists in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The two squads are as follows:
India: PR Sreejesh (gk), Krishna Bahadur Pathak (gk), Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Simranjeet Singh.
Belgium: Vincent Vanasch (gk), Loic Van Doren (gk), Arthur De Sloover, Arthur Van Doren, Loïck Luypaert, Alexander Hendrickx, Gauthier Boccard, Emmanuel Stockbroekx, Simon Gougnard, John-John Dohmen, Victor Wegnez, Felix Denayer, Sébastien Dockier, Cédric Charlier, Tom Boon, Thomas Briels (C), Florent van Aubel and Nicolas De Kerpel