FIH Pro Hockey League highlights: Sreejesh stars as India beats Belgium 2-1

Indian hockey team
India defeated world champions Belgium 2-1 in FIH Pro Hockey League 2020 at Kalinga Stadium on Saturday. Indian hockey team were quick to get off the blocks with debutant Raj Kumar Pal setting up a fantastic goal within 90 seconds of play as he passed from the left flank to Dilpreet Singh on top of the circle.

 

Check India vs Belgium hockey match live score and match updates on Sunday here

Check Pro Hockey League points table here

Young forward Dilpreet, making his comeback in the Indian squad after over a year, took a powerful shot on goal which found a perfect deflection from Mandeep Singh who was positioned in front of Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.

With scores reading 1-1, it was a tense final quarter but India pushed back Belgium hockey team by scoring another goal. It was Ramandeep Singh, who after injecting the ball during a PC battery, picked up a rebound off Belgium's first rusher to score the goal.

Though Belgium created penalty corners in the dying minutes of the match, India held their nerves and experienced goalkeeper Sreejesh ensured India sealed the game and earned the winning points to stay at the second position in the FIH Hockey Pro League points table. Belgium are still on top with 11 points from 5 games.

This was India's 50th win against Belgium and the most memorable one as it has helped the team consolidate the position of world number four pushing defending Olympic Champions Argentina to five.

Krishan Pathak was adjudged Player of the Match for his brave performance. India will take on Belgium at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium on Sunday, February 9.

 

 


LIVE UPDATES

FIRST HALF STATS


AT HALF TIME: India 1 | 0 Belgium

Both teams have looked equally good in the first 30 minutes but India have the edge with a 1-goal lead

First quarter stats


At first quarter: India 1 | 0 Netherlands


Here's what Belgium coach said ahead of India vs Belgium clash

India is good side and battle in very close games. We won World Cup finals at Kalinga Stadium and know how hard it is to play India in front of packed crowd

Here's what India head coach said ahead of India vs Belgium clash

We are expecting a good start as we did against the The Netherlands, India head coach

India vs Belgium goals scored since 2013

Total matches played: 21
 
India scored 39 goals
 
Belgium scored 45 goals
Indian hockey team

India vs Belgium head to head since 2013

Total matches played: 21
 
India won: 7
 
Belgium won: 12
 
Draws: 2

Stats Alert: Rupinder Pal Singh was in superb form against Dutch. Can he continue his form today?

We are wary of India's threats: Belgium captain

World champions Belgium are brimming with confidence after wins over Australia and New Zealand but captain Thomas Briels is expecting a tough fight from India in FIH Hockey Pro League.
 
Briels said Belgium are "wary of the threats" which the home team possesses.
 
 
Belgium are currently atop the points table with 11 points, having tasted success in their away matches against former world no. 1 Australia and world no. 8 New Zealand.
 
However, Briels believes India will be a totally differently opponent, especially after their morale-boosting win over Netherlands in their opening Pro League tie.
 
India are currently fifth with five points from their two matches which they played against the Netherlands here last month.
Indian Men's Hockey Team Captain Manpreet Singh (left), Mascot Olly, and Belgium Men's Hockey Team Captain Thomas Briels (right) pose with the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 Trophy in Bhubaneswar

Manpreet to lead India vs Belgium, Raj Kumar only newcomer

Manpreet Singh will lead Indian hockey team in the upcoming FIH Pro League matches against world no 1 Belgium hockey team , a 24-member team which was announced on Monday and includes a lone newcomer in Raj Kumar Pal.
 
Harmanpreet Singh will do duty as the vice captain in the matches taking place on February 8 and 9 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Raj Kumar Pal was impressive in his stint with the India Colts team in the past season when it won a silver medal at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia.
 
The seasoned P R Sreejesh, Krishan Pathak, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh are also part of the squad.
 
Chief coach Graham Reid said, "The objective of these matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League is to find the balance between giving players opportunities for Olympic selection, working out our strongest combinations and continuing to demonstrate that we can compete with the best teams in the world."
 
Reid added, "Raj Kumar Pal has been rewarded for his outstanding form in the recent camps and named in the squad. He possesses extra-ordinary skills and speed, which if given the opportunity will excel against the World No.1 Belgium."
Indian hockey team

Belgium captain expects 'good fight' from India

Belgium hockey team captain Thomas Briels said that he is expecting tough matches against India in the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League games.
 
Belgium on Wednesday arrived in Bhubaneshwar for the FIH Hockey Pro League matches, scheduled to be played on February 8 and 9 at the Kalinga Stadium.

"India is looking really sharp as well, and they have been playing well which is something we saw in their initial two matches against the Netherlands hockey team . We expect a tough couple of matches, and it's going to be a good fight for us as well. Of course, we are wary of the threat that they possess, but we are really excited to play a tough opponent like India so we can improve further before the Olympics," Hockey India's official website quoted Briels as saying. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Belgium Hockey Team. Photo: @TheHockeyIndia

Olympics on mind, India improving with each match, says Gurjant

Indian hockey team forward Gurjant Singh has said that every member in the team has Tokyo Olympics on their mind and will thus use the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League fixtures against Belgium hockey team to further their preparation and boost their confidence.
 
India had a great start to their FIH Pro League campaign as they defeated the Netherlands hockey team in both their matches last month.

Ahead of the two matches slated to be played on Saturday and Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium against World No. 1 Belgium, Gurjant expressed that the Indian set-up is improving with each match and is working towards a common goal of performing well at the Olympics this year.
 
"This is a very crucial time for us. Every match is very important for us. We are coordinating and playing well as a unit. However, we have to ensure that we keep putting up good performances consistently. Each and every player in the team has the Olympics in their mind and we are working towards doing well at the tournament," said the 25-year-old.
 
The forward added that the team is confident ahead of taking on Belgium since India performed brilliantly during their tour of the country last year.
 
"We had a great tour of Belgium last year as we won all our matches there. That result certainly gives us a lot of confidence. All the FIH Hockey Pro League matches will help us prepare for the Olympics. All the top teams in the world are playing this tournament. Now the Indian team is performing well. We beat the Netherlands last month, who are ranked third in the world. So the team's morale is quite high at the moment," said Gurjant. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
 


India faces stiff test against world champions Belgium

They are confident after a stupendous debut at the FIH Pro League but Indian hockey team have their task cut out when they host world champions Belgium hockey team in their second round of the tournament, starting at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
 
After skipping the first edition of the tournament in 2019, India made a dream debut at the League, collecting five points from the opening tie against the Netherlands hockey team.
 
World number five India thrashed Netherlands 5-2 in the opening match of the two-leg tie before beating the Dutchmen 3-1 in shoot-out after both the teams were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time in the second match here last month.
 
But since then, the Manpreet Singh-led side has not featured in the league so far, thus slipping to the number five in points table.
 
Belgium are currently leading the standings with 11 points from four games, while Netherlands are placed second with seven points from as many matches.
 
Australia are placed third with six points from six points from four games, followed by Germany and India.
 
But irrespective of the confident start, the Indians are expected to face a tough outing against Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium, a venue where the Red Lions won their maiden FIH World Cup in 2018.
 
Belgium, who recently replaced Australia in the coveted top position in the world rankings, are brimming with confidence after wins over Australia and New Zealand.
 
But the visiting team skipper Thomas Briels has no qualms in admitting that they are expecting a tough fight from the hosts India in the upcoming matches.
 
Briels believes India will be a totally differently opponent, especially after their morale-boosting win over Netherlands.
 
"India are looking really sharp and they have been playing well which is something we saw in their initial two matches against the Dutch," Briels had said after arriving here.
 
"We expect a tough couple of matches, and it's going to be a good fight for us as well. Of course, we are wary of the threat that they (India) possess, but we are really excited to play a tough opponent like India so we can improve further before the Olympics," he said.
 
Even though India are the hosts, Belgium are taking confidence from the fact that the venue Kalinga Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for them.
 
"It feels really good to be back in the city where we became the world champions. We have some amazing memories of playing here, and it is always a great spectacle when we step foot onto the turf at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium."
 
India and Belgium have played 10 times here with the visitors coming out on top on eight occasions while two games ended in draws.
 
But having said that, the Indians looked a completely transformed outfit against the Dutchmen and if they continue in the same vein, there are no reasons why the hosts can't upstage Belgium over the weekend.
 
The FIH Pro League also serves all the major hockey playing nations a vital platform to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and the Graham Reid-coached Indian team is desperate to make the most of the opportunities.
 
After Belgium, India will host Australia here on February 21 and 22 before embarking on away matches against Germany (on April 25 and 26), Great Britain (May 2 and 3), Argentina (June 5 and 6) and Spain (June 13 and 14).
Indian Men's Hockey Team Captain Manpreet Singh (left), Mascot Olly, and Belgium Men's Hockey Team Captain Thomas Briels (right) pose with the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 Trophy in Bhubaneswar


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