Having registered a confidence-building victory over the Netherlands in their final pool assignment, India will be eyeing a smooth passage into the semi-finals when they take on Belgium in the last eight stage of the hockey Champions Trophy on Thursday.
The 3-2 victory over world cup silver medallists Netherlands at the Kalinga stadium on Tuesday, the first in 18 years, boosted the morale of the Indian team which had faltered in their first two Pool B matches, losing 0-1 against Olympic champions Germany and 2-4 against World Cup bronze medallists Argentina.
The hosts showed tremendous resilience and self-belief to win against the Dutch but finished an unimpressive third in the group.
Indian coach Roelant Oltmans called upon the team to display the same spirit and verve they displayed against the Dutch. “Top eight teams of the world are playing in the Champions Trophy. Every match gives you a new challenge. We have to prove ourselves. The Netherlands match was a close contest match and I hope our players will play with the same spirit with Belgium in the quarters,” Oltmans said on Wednesday.
Belgium finished second in Pool A, unbeaten behind England, with five points from three matches.
“We have plan and strategies for every match and we will also plan for Belgium. We want to perform well in every single game,” Oltmans said.
Indian captain Sardar Singh said, “The team is day-by-day improving. We will try to play our best against Belgium and continue our performance.