India captain Sardar Singh feels his team’s success in the tough hockey World Cup opener against Belgium on Saturday will largely depend on keeping opposition hit-man Tom Boon under check.
There is very little to choose between both the teams as far as FIH rankings are concerned as India is ranked eight while Belgium is a rung below at the ninth position. But Sardar is confident about a positive start.
“The team is all set for the opening match against Belgium and we are confident of making a winning start,” he said on the eve of their Group A encounter.
“We are putting our strategies in place for every Belgian player but our main focus is on their drag-flicker Tom Boon.
We all are aware that he is one of the best drag—flickers in the world today and hence we are working on how best to tackle him. Keeping him under control will be like half the game won,” Sardar said.
“We last played Belgium in the Hero World League Finals.
We lost that match 1-2 and this was solely because of the goal scored by Tom Boon in the last few minutes. So he cannot be taken lightly at any point in the game,” the skipper added.
Sardar, however, said the 4-1 win over South Africa in their second and final warm-up game augurs well for India.
“I am happy that as a team we performed really well in our last warm-up match against South Africa. That win has provided a boost to our confidence level. I have advised my teammates not to take any pressure and just play their natural game and stay positive on the field,” he said.
India’s chief coach Terry Walsh too looked confident ahead of tomorrow’s match but warned his players against complacency against the European Cup runners-up.
“We had a good game against South Africa. We showed good sign of confidence and control, and melded it with some Indian flair and dodging capabilities,” he said.
“All the boys are determined and are oozing with confidence and positivity. But we cannot forget Belgium’s target for World Cup and plus the fact that they have been playing very good hockey recently with positive results.
“From our end we will focus on our style and thwart the powers they can potentially bring. Our objective is to perform close to our potential and execute our plans effectively which will make us a formidable opponent against Belgium tomorrow,” Walsh added.
Drag-flick exponent Rupinder Pal Singh scored two goals against South Africa the other day and Walsh said the lanky defender could play a key role in India’s success tomorrow.
“The two goals scored by Rupinder Pal Singh in the last warm-up game played against South Africa makes me believe that he is the player to watch out for in tomorrow’s match,” he said.