The Indian men’s hockey team’s 2-1 win over reigning world and European champions Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, on February 8 was voted as the third-best match of FIH Pro League 2020.
In a fan poll run on the Watch.Hockey app, the match got 13.19 per cent of the votes.
With 29.14 per cent, the 4-4 thrilling draw between Belgium and the Netherlands men in November took the top spot while the Dutch women’s team’s 3-1 triumph over Argentina in Buenos Aires took the second spot with 22.73 per cent of the votes.
“It was a great match, if you look back at it. We won by 2-1, but the way Belgium played was outstanding – obviously, they are the best in the world,” India captain Manpreet Singh said reminiscing about the win.
“Whenever we play against Belgium it is always a good match because they are a really good team and they always create opportunities, score good goals and have good, experienced players,” Manpreet added.
India rode on goals from Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh to halt the Red Lions’ unbeaten streak. The defeat still stands as Belgium’s only loss in FIH Pro League 2020 so far. It was also India’s 50th victory over Belgium.
India made their debut in the FIH Pro League in the 2020 season. They didn’t participate in the inaugural 2019 edition.
The Indians, led by Manpreet, have given a good account of themselves in their maiden campaign, winning two and drawing two of their six matches before COVID-19 interrupted the season. They, however, picked up bonus points in both their drawn matches by winning shootouts.
India have scored 17 goals while conceding 15 in their six matches so far and currently lie fourth on the points table with 10 points. Third-placed Australia are on 14 points but have played two matches more than the Indians.
Belgium top the table with 26 points in 11 matches.
The Indian hockey team’s two losses this season were close affairs. They lost 3-2 against Belgium and 4-3 against Australia at Bhubaneswar.
In another poll, Gurjant Singh’s 13th-second strike against the Netherlands in India’s debut FIH Pro League match on 18 January was voted as the second-best goal of the competition in 2020.
Belgium women’s team striker Ambre Ballenghien’s strike against New Zealand on February 1 took the top spot.