The Indian men's hockey team will return to FIH Pro League action when they take on the Olympic champions Belgium in a crucial two-legged contest on June 11 and 12 at Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein here.
Currently placed second on the pool table with 27 points in 12 matches, the Indian team is coming off a successful home leg. After starting their home leg with a 5-4 win and a 3-5 loss against Spain, the Indian team went on to secure match points against every team they played against -- Argentina (2-2 (1-3 SO) and 4-3), England (3-3 (3-2 SO) and 4-3) and Germany (3-0 and 3-1).
Speaking ahead of the two-legged tie against hosts Belgium, men's captain Amit Rohidas said, "We've had a successful home leg, and I must say we have gone from strength to strength in the season so far. This will be the most important phase of the Pro League. We will be facing two strong teams at their home, so it will be challenging.
"We also got a good amount of time at the national camp in SAI, Bengaluru to introspect our performances. From structure to finishing, we've worked on all the aspects of the game. The plan will be to simply repeat what we've done in the training," added Rohidas.
Meanwhile, vice-captain Harmanpreet stated, "It's been a great season so far. Many young players got a chance to play against top teams and they've grown with each match. We are in a good position, and our focus will be to carry forward the momentum we have gained from the home leg."
The last time both teams faced each other was during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics semifinal where India lost 2-5 and Belgium went on to win the Olympic gold.
"Look it was in the past; and this is a different stage. Of course, our aim will be to win both the matches and put ourselves in a strong position in the points table, but for that, we will have to play good hockey. Our focus will be on executing our skills," Rohidas said.
Belgium are also tied at the same points (27 points in 12 matches) but are placed third in the pool table due to a lesser goal difference compared to India.
"The points table is getting intense, and we've got only four matches left that too against teams like Belgium and Netherlands. This is the challenge we were waiting for. We will go all out against them," added Harmanpreet, who is currently the leading goalscorer in the league.