We are wary of India’s threats: Belgium captain Thomas Briels on upcoming Pro League tie

World champions Belgium are brimming with confidence after wins over Australia and New Zealand but captain Thomas Briels is expecting a tough fight from India in the upcoming round of FIH Hockey Pro League here this weekend. Briels said Belgium are “wary of the threats” which the home team possesses. Belgium are currently atop the points table with 11 points, having tasted success in their away matches against former world no. 1 Australia and world no. 8 New Zealand.

However, Briels believes India will be a totally differently opponent, especially after their morale-boosting win over Netherlands in their opening Pro League tie. India are currently fifth with five points from their two matches which they played against the Netherlands here last month.

“India are looking really sharp as well, and they have been playing well which is something we saw in their initial two matches against the Dutch,” Briels said. “We expect a tough couple of matches, and it’s going to be a good fight for us as well. Of course, we are wary of the threat that they (India) possess, but we are really excited to play a tough opponent like India so we can improve further before the Olympics,” he said.

Briels said the second edition of the Pro League is a great platform for hockey playing nations to prepare ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “I think the FIH Hockey Pro League is a really good competition for us to take part in right before the Olympics. It gives us time to prepare ourselves well, and also face tough competition along the way,” he said. “We have started the competition well, and want to make sure we keep the momentum.”

The Red Lions made a fantastic start to the second edition of the FIH Pro League with wins over Australia and New Zealand away from home, and the world champions will now be up against eight-time Olympic gold medallist India in the two-match contest here on Saturday and Sunday. Even though India are the hosts, but Belgium are taking confidence from the fact that the Kalinga Stadium was the place which gave them their maiden world title in 2018.

“It feels really good to be back in the city where we became the world champions. We have some amazing memories of playing here, and it is always a great spectacle when we step foot onto the turf at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium. Belgium’s coach Shane McLeod too agreed with his skipper, saying the stadium has turned out to be a happy hunting ground for the Red Lions. “It is one of the best in the world, and we have a good record here. We have played 10 times, and have won on eight occasions and drawn two times,” he said.

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