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Hockey World League Final: Task cut out for India in quarter-final vs Belgium

India will look to give their best shot when they face Belgium in quarter-final match of the Hockey World League Final

other sports Updated: Dec 05, 2017 23:50 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hockey World League Final,HWL 2017,Indian men's hockey team
India will have their task cut out when they face Belgium in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World League Final.(Hockey India)

Following a lacklustre performance in the preliminary stage, it is time for hosts India to give their best shot against Olympic silver medallists Belgium in their quarter-final match at the Hockey World League Final here on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, Belgium beat Netherlands 3-0 in their last match to finish top of Pool A with nine points thereby guaranteeing a duel with India. In the other quarter-final on Wednesday, Olympic gold medallists Australia take on Spain, who beat Olympic champions Argentina 2-1 on Tuesday to finish second.

On Thursday, England lock horns with world No 1 Argentina in the third quarter-final while Germany take on Netherlands in the last match.

READ | Hockey World League Final: Failure to convert penalty corners hurting India

India initially chose to do ‘closed-door’ training on Tuesday afternoon, but cancelled it within minutes, instead opting to watch both the final league matches.

In contrast to Belgium’s unbeaten run, India’s performance has been poor. Though the European team holds the edge in recent games, winning three out of four, India have a better overall record with 45 wins and just 17 losses in 72 meetings.

“We need to give off our best as there is no scope of a comeback now. We need to improve in all departments, especially in penalty corner conversion,” coach Sjoerd Marijne had said after team’s loss against Germany on Monday night.

Even as India struggle with penalty corner conversions, Belgium have been on the money, getting all their three goals on Tuesday against Netherlands through the short corner.

READ | Hockey World League Final: India coach rues missed chances after Germany loss

Spain edge out Argentina

Earlier, lowly-ranked Spain surprised Rio Olympic champions Argentina 2-1. Spain, ranked ninth in the world, trailed by a goal at the end of the second quarter but bounced back. Argentina skipper Matias Paredes struck from the left flank in the 21st minute to give his side the lead, but in the 50th minute Pau Quemada drew parity through a PC conversion.

And just when it looked the match would end in a draw, a goal-bound shot by Spain’s Marc Garcia struck Argentina defender Juan Gilardi’s knee, resulting in a penalty stroke with just a minute remaining on the clock. Josep Romeu made no mistake to make it 2-1.

Quarter-final line-up

Wednesday: Australia vs Spain (5.15 p.m); India vs Belgium (7.30 p.m)

Thursday: England vs Argentina (5.15 p.m), Germany vs Netherlands (7.30 p.m).

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 23:40 IST