Sun, 03 Dec 2023

London [UK], May 25 (ANI): Indian hockey fans will be treated to high-octane matches this weekend as India take on rivals Belgium and Great Britain as the European leg of the prestigious FIH Hockey Pro League begins tomorrow. Currently leading the pool table with 19 points from five outright victories in eight matches and two from shootouts, India will look to carry on with their winning ways when they take on Belgium on Friday and Great Britain on Saturday in the Lee Valley Stadium in London.

While hosts Great Britain will be riding on their recent success in Christchurch, New Zealand where they won 5-2 and 6-1 against New Zealand, and also beat Australia 2-1 and 3-3 (4-2 SO) to gain 19 points from eight games with four outright wins and three from shootout. Meanwhile, Belgium will look to climb up the charts from their current position of No.7. They have so far played just four matches in this edition of Pro League and have won a match each against Argentina and Germany.

Having arrived in London on Monday, the Indian side is upbeat and are eager to play exciting brand of hockey. "As a team, India have built a healthy rivalry against Belgium particularly over the last 5-6 years. We enjoy playing this opponent and the team is always pumped up to do well against them," expressed Captain Harmanpreet Singh ahead of tomorrow's match against the FIH Men's World Cup 2023 runners-up.

Since the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, India has taken on Belgium in 19 matches of which Belgium has won 9 times while India have won 8 matches and have drawn two games. India last played Belgium in Antwerp last year, where they lost 2-3 and won 3-3 (5-4 SO) in the previous edition of Pro League. "If you look at the stats, we have always produced close encounters against Belgium. The mind frame that we are in at the moment, we are confident of yet another good show against them," added Harmanpreet, who also happens to be the highest goal scorer in the League so far with 11 goals.

Against Great Britain, India last played at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the Quarter Final match and convincingly beat them 3-1. "Though we haven't played Great Britain regularly, we are aware of the team and the players, and what they can bring to the table particularly while playing in front of their home crowd," stated India Vice Captain Hardik Singh.

"We had a few fans visit us during our practice session and we absolutely love the vibe here in London whenever we have played in this stadium. We look forward to all our Indian hockey fans coming and supporting us over the next week," added the young star.

This will be the Indian team's first outing under Chief Coach Craig Fulton, and in their previous outing in the prestigious League matches at home, India remained unbeaten against reigning World Champions Germany and Australia which helped them top the points table. In Europe, they will take on the Netherlands and Argentina in Eindhoven, the Netherlands following their matches here in London.(ANI)

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