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Australia Is Biggest Challenge, India Also Formidable: Belgium Skipper Felix Denayer – SBB Times

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Ahead of his side’s Men’s Hockey World Cup campaign, Belgium skipper Felix Denayer said the toughest challenge is going to be Australia and India is a big challenge in home conditions. FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 will start from Friday. Defending champions Belgium will take on South Korea on Saturday in their campaign opener. “The toughest challenge is going to be Australia. They are the number one team in the world. India is also a big challenge in home conditions. There are teams like Germany, Netherlands, England and Argentina as well. The tournament is going to be exciting,” Felix Denayer told ANI.

Denayer said his side is looking forward to the South Korean challenge and to playing in front of big crowds.

Belgium coach Michel van den Heuvel said it is a lovely feeling to have come to India for the tournament, which he said is one of the best, if not the best places to play the sport and the sight of excited, highly invested fans makes them happy as players.

“The excitement is really big. When you leave the plane and enter India and see all the big screens and how involved the city is in sports and hockey, it gives us a special feeling after 20 hours of tiring travel. You feel happy that you will play your beloved sport in this environment. For our team, it is one of the best, if not the best places to play hockey. Excited to be here in India and hoping to have crowds turning up in big numbers soon,” the coach told ANI.

He said it is important for every side to start the tournament well and there is always pressure to do so.

“We have prepared well. We had played our opponents back in December, so we have an idea that what they will do. We participated in the Pro League as well,” he added.

The FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup will take place in Odisha from January 13 to January 29. India will be looking forward to attaining a podium position finish this time around, after crashing out the 2018 World Cup in quarterfinals, where they lost to Netherlands. India are placed in Pool D along with England, Wales, Spain.

Belgium is placed in Pool B along with South Korea, Japan and Germany.

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