India face Belgium, eye revenge
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India will have revenge on mind but injuries remain a worry for the team as it takes on Belgium in the quarterfinal clash of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament on Thursday. After topping Pool A courtesy their two wins and the number of goals they scored in the preliminary part of the league, India will play Pool B's bottom-placed side Belgium as the new format devised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) allows all eight teams to move from the preliminary league into the knockout rounds.
India and Germany, who won the encounter between these two teams, finished on six points each, but India took the top slot due to a better goal-difference. India are still rankled by last year's Champions Challenge final when they blew away a two-goal lead in the closing stages to lose and pave the way for Belgium to make their maiden appearance in the elite Champions Trophy.
Belgium went on to repeat their victory when the two teams met again in the preliminary group of this year's Olympic Games at London, where eight-time gold medallists India finished at the bottom of the 12-team competition.
"We are eager to win this match to settle a score," said India coach Michael Nobbs, whose outfit is playing in the Champions Trophy after getting one of the two wildcards handed by the FIH. Nobbs said the Indian players want to get over the shattering loss at the Champions Challenge, which would have secured India a place in the Champions Trophy by right, instead of depending on the wildcard gifted by the FIH.
"Belgium did not win the Champions Challenge, we lost it. The final was all but ours before we blew it up in the last minutes," said Nobbs, who gave his players a day off ahead of the quarterfinal.
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