Hockey World Cup 2018: India vs Belgium Match Is A "Pre-Quarterfinal" For Us, Says Coach Harendra Singh
India beat South Africa in their opening 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup match and will next face higher-ranked Belgium.
India registered a comfortable win in their first match of the tournament
Belgium defeated Canada 2-1 in their first pool C match
Since 2013, India have lost 13 matches against Belgium
After beginning their Hockey World Cup 2018 with a 5-0 win over South Africa, India will face a stern test in their second Pool C match when they take on World No.3 Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Ahead of the crucial clash between the two teams, chief coach of the Indian hockey team Harendra Singh said that the match against Belgium will be a virtual "pre-quarterfinal" for his side. Talking about the match against the reigning Olympic silver medallists, Harendra Singh said that the team which will enjoy the pressure better will emerge victorious.
"I don't feel any pressure. If you enjoy that pressure you will succeed. What I feel is that for me tomorrow is our pre-quarterfinal match and if we want to directly go into the quarterfinals we will have to win tomorrow," Harendra said in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
"We have discussed that in our team meeting and we will take one match at a time."
Since 2013, India do not have a good record against Belgium, having won just five and suffered defeats on 13 occasions with one game ending in a draw.
Asked about threat posed by Belgium, Harendra said India need to play to their strength to come out victorious on Sunday.
"If we look at their graph in the last 4-5 years, Belgium is a good team. We have to play according to the situation," he said.
"In the last 5-6 months the Indian team has set a trademark of playing attacking hockey which is our weapon and we won't compromise on that."
Speaking about the areas that India need to guard against Belgium, the India coach said, "We need to take care about the vertical hockey Belgium plays. They don't play parallel hockey of playing the ball back. So, we need to concentrate on that."
Harendra Singh said the Hockey World Cup 2018 is a new tournament for his team and past results will not have any bearing.
"I don't think about past. I never focused on mistakes of past but what we do is point out the good things we have done in the past matches. Past is history. Every tournament you have to look it in a new way as new chapter," he said.
"Our fault is we discuss a lot about the past but are not willing to live in the present moment. We tend to destroy our future by discussing about past.
"Tomorrow is a new day, a new tournament, a new team, a new World Cup which is being watched and blessed by 15,000 spectators at home."
(With PTI Inputs)