Graham Reid feels India’s real test will be against Belgium

Gaurav SinghGaurav Singh

November 30 2021
Tokyo olympics hockey graham reid
(Courtesy : hockeyindia)

The quarter-final game of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup will take place on Wednesday.

After an impressive 8-2 win over Poland in Group B match of FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021, Team India will face off against Belgium on Wednesday in the quarter-final. Speaking to media ahead of the knockout encounter, India’s chief coach Graham Reid stated that the team’s real fight will begin on Wednesday against Belgium. 

“I feel the team has been learning from each match they have played so far and have gotten better with each day. In the last two games, particularly, we have started doing what we aim to do. But the real test begins tomorrow against Belgium,” said Graham Reid.

Belgium have been unbeaten in the tournament so far, having won two games and drawn one in the group stage. Talking about India’s strategy for the match, the coach remarked, “One of our goals for tomorrow’s match will be to have a good start. The boys are upbeat. Hopefully, all the nerves would have been washed away in the last couple of games. I am more focused on making sure we are tight in defence at every moment in the game.”

The Indian team had defeated Belgium in the final of the last edition to win the title and the hosts will look to repeat the same performance on Wednesday. Belgium played an unlikely draw against Malaysia in the ongoing World Cup and the Indian coach has learned a lot about their next opponents from that match.

Graham Reid stated, “You see the DNA comes down from the senior team, and the senior team is World No. 1. You also saw some vulnerabilities which the Malaysians exploited and we will look to do the same. The team that can come out and play their natural game will be the winners. We played them in the final. Belgium do have a history of being really good. For the last 10 years, Belgium have been performing at that level. Hopefully, our guys can stay switched on.”

He further stated that penalty corners may prove to be a crucial factor that may determine the result on Wednesday. The coach said, “We have been spending a fair bit of time practising penalty corner attack and defence as it may decide the match tomorrow for both the teams. We are studying what Belgium are doing in the past couple of days.”

“We are also playing well through midfield and we need to continue doing that. We have started to get penetration and we are creating opportunities. The team that can come out and play their natural game tomorrow will be the winner,” Graham Reid asserted.

Belgium Head Coach Jeroen Baart also spoke to the media in the pre-match virtual press conference and he said that both teams have a complimentary style of play. “Our style of play is very complimentary to India. India like to counter-attack using their speed and vertical play. They do it really well. We focus on our defensive end and on controlling the ball to create opportunities,” he said.

“It will be a fantastic match-up. We expect a lot of attacking and aggression from the Indian team. We need to have the right structure and right intensity at the right moment. The best team will go through,” Baart added.

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