Indian men’s hockey team started their European tourney on an emphatic note as they trumped World Champions Belgium 2-0 in their opening encounter of the five-match series on Thursday. Experienced forwards – Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh were the stars of the show for visitors who played attacking hockey right from the word go to stun the Red Lions in their backyard at Antwerp.
The two teams hardly gave each other any space to score in the first two-quarters of the match and went back goalless by half-time. For India, it was Mandeep who broke the deadlock by showing extra pace and skill to stun the home side. He scored a brilliant field goal to provide India a crucial lead.
The Belgians, on the other hand, upped the ante with a string of attacks on Indian goal-post but to no avail as veteran PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak successfully manned the D. The Indian duo denied the hosts any sniff of a proper goal-scoring opportunity with their quick reflexes and swift movement.
In the final quarter, Akashdeep scored another brilliant field goal for the tourists to assure an Indian victory. On their European journey, the Men in Blue are scheduled to play a five-Test match series. They will take on Belgium thrice while they face Spain twice on the tour.
Under the leadership of new coach Graham Reid, India will play Belgium on October 1.