India face Belgium in Champions Challenge opener

Updated: 25 November 2011 18:39 IST

Forced to play the event after losing out on an automatic spot in next year's Champions Trophy hockey tournament, erstwhile champions India would be desperate to open their Champions Challenge campaign on a perfect note against a tricky Belgium here on Friday.

India face Belgium in Champions Challenge opener

Johannesburg:

Forced to play the event after losing out on an automatic spot in next year's Champions Trophy hockey tournament, erstwhile champions India would be desperate to open their Champions Challenge campaign on a perfect note against a tricky Belgium here on Friday.

As hosts, earlier India were to feature in the eight-nation Champions Trophy, before the tournament was shifted to New Zealand by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) citing problems with the governance of the sport in the country amidst the ongoing rift between two national bodies - Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation.

New Zealand thus got the hosts slot in the Champions Trophy in place of India, who were drawn in the second-rung Champions Challenge tournament, whose winner would get an automatic qualification to the next year's elite FIH tournament.

But since landing here four days ago, all is not going well for the Indians as they go into their tournament opener without any practice game, courtesy inclement weather.

Inclement weather and heavy showers over the past two evenings denied India an opportunity to even begin their two warm-up games against Malaysia and Canada.

The practice match against Malaysia on Wednesday was called off due to lightening and yesterday match against Canada could not take place because of heavy water logging on the pitch.

"It's disappointing, but no team would want to risk injury in such conditions," said India coach Michael Nobbs.

Topics : Hockey India Belgium
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