Mon, 20 Sep 2021

By Anuj MishraNew Delhi [India], August 1 (ANI): Indian men's hockey team might have defeated Great Britain in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics but Hockey legend Zafar Iqbal feels the next game against Belgium will be a "tough" one for the side.

Carrying the hopes of an entire nation, the Indian men's hockey team lived up to the expectations with a scintillating 3-1 win against Great Britain on Sunday.

The Manpreet Singh-led side inched closer to end the 41-year medal drought as they booked the semi-final berth with help of goals from Dilpreet Singh ( 7'), Gurjant Singh (16' ) Hardik Singh (57').

"It's a big achievement for all of us there is no doubt about it. After 40 plus years we have reached the semi-finals. We are praying for the success of our team. We had the confidence in the team that they would defeat Great Britain and we did," Iqbal told ANI in an interview.

India will next lock horns with World Champions Belgium on Tuesday and Iqbal, the former Indian player feels the upcoming match is going to be a tough nut for the Men In Blue to crack.

"It depends on many factors (whether the team will go on to win the gold medal) as the next match is a tough game for us because we will play against Belgium. Belgium is known to be the very top team in hockey and I am sure that we will also display our game on that particular day," said Iqbal.

"It will be a very different game, a knockout match to be precise. It will be a do-or-die match for all of us and I am sure the think tank will make a plan for the match.""But today's game gave us a relief in the sense that after so long we have qualified for the semi-finals. When we will play against Belgium, I am sure the plan will be different," he added.

Great Britain had won three back-to-back penalty corners and finally converted the last one into the goal in the third quarter.

India's goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was spot on with his saves as he displayed superior efforts to deny Great Britain any chance of coming back in the game.

Fondly nicknamed the 'Gentleman of Hockey', Zafar Iqbal didn't shy away from praising Sreejesh for Sunday's game.

"Once the opponent is losing they don't have any option except an attack. Also, the main defence was Sreejesh, he saved many goals today. He was the man of the match I would say," said Iqbal"We should appreciate each and every player for today's game because Britishers are considered to be a strong team but we fought and defended well," he signed off. (ANI)

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