Expect traditional rivals India and Belgium to play closely fought contests when the sides lock horns in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 matches on February 8 and 9th.
World Champions Belgium are making sure that the hosts are not a let off and they can clinch victories in both the matches to maintain a good record at the Kalinga stadium.
In an exclusive interview to The Bridge, Belgium captain Thomas Briels describes what it means to play at the Kalinga stadium, where they were crowned World Champions last year.
Briels, 32, also feels playing at the Kalinga stadium gives his team a big boost.
“I think so, it’s really nice to be here, it is the nicest hockey stadium. If we play against India the crowd is going to be really full, it gives goosebumps and adrenaline,” Briels said.
“It is really pleasure to play her, we train too hard to play, Kalinga stadium we have some good memories, but that is a few years ago, we want to make so good memories now,” he added.
Playing against India in their own backyard will be a challenge for Belgium, but they have watched the home team’s matches against Netherlands, and are ready to give it a tough fight.
Even defeating Australia and New Zealand in the previous encounters of the league will only act as a boost for Belgium.
“We got 11 point out 12, we are confident, its good to have two last games in India and then go home,” Briels said.
“India looked really sharp, they are playing good attacking hockey. We would like to develop our game, the Olympic in summer is most important, we will try to win both games,” the Belgium captain added.
Briels reckons Belgium do not have an Olympic gold on their mind yet but are taking every game at the FIH Hockey Pro League as a preparation for the marquee tournament.
Moreover, Briels believes that tougher challenge awaits the Red Lions at the Olympics where they will play Australia and the Netherlands.
“I think Australia and Holland, will be close games but with Argentina and India it will be really close,” he said.
“It is about the team which stays most consistent,” he added.
Belgium will head home after their two-match leg against India. They will resume action for the FIH Hockey Pro League in March against Germany.