India face tough test against table-toppers Belgium in FIH Pro League

World champions, Belgium have been in imperious form so far in the FIH Pro League, scoring 15 goals en route three victories and a draw.

By Rahul Venkat ·

The Indian hockey men’s team will resume their FIH Pro League campaign when they host Belgium in a double-header this weekend (February 8-9) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

India made their FIH Pro League debut this season and had a promising start, notching consecutive wins over the third-ranked Netherlands in contrasting fashion. However, their task will be cut out against an in-form Belgian side.

Battle of the attackers

Belgium have played four games in the FIH Pro League so far, winning three and drawing one, with the help of 15 goals.

The foremost attacking threats will be the duo of Felix Denayer and Alexander Hendrickx, who have scored three goals each.

The Indian hockey side, bolstered by the return from injury of drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, were at their offensive best against the Dutch. The likes of Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay were a constant presence in the attacking third, linking up well and will be key if India are to upstage the top-ranked side in men’s hockey.

Defensive frailties

India and Belgium’s similar styles of play make the double-header an exciting contest to look forward to but the team’s defences will have to be in peak form.

Belgium have shipped seven goals in their four games so far, conceding two in every game save for their last encounter against New Zealand last weekend, where they won 3-1.

India themselves conceded two goals against the Netherlands in their debut match but the 3-3 draw in the second exposed some issues in the backline. The Oranje frustrated India with short, measured passes and attacked from the wings.

Rupinder Pal Singh will be an important player at both ends of the field and while his drag-flicks have yielded three goals, the defensive part of his play will need to be equally sharp for India to remain unbeaten.

Where to watch the FIH Pro League

The FIH Pro League will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and will be streamed live on Hotstar as well. The matches will be held on February 8 and 9, with both starting at 5:00 PM IST.