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Surprised by Rupinder Pal Singh’s exclusion, says Thomas Briels

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Surprised by Rupinder Pal Singh’s exclusion, says Thomas Briels

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SportsCafe Desk


Belgium Hockey team captain Thomas Briels has stated that he is surprised that Rupinder Pal Singh has not been included in the Indian World Cup squad. Apart from Singh, SV Sunil was also excluded, though his exclusion seems to have come on the back of an injury he sustained during practice.

After the exclusion of experienced Rupinder Pal Singh from the squad of the Hockey World Cup 2018, many people were surprised and the latest one to join the bandwagon is Belgium Hockey team captain Thomas Briels. Briels’ team is in the same group as India which also has Canada and South Africa. India and Belgium both play their first match on the first day of the event against different opponents in South Africa and Canada respectively.

"It was surprising to read (about Rupinder's omission) because he was there the last couple of big tournaments...he scores a lot from the (penalty) corners," Briels told TOI.

"You always want to play the best players. But if he is not in the team, it will have a reason. The selectors and coaches made a choice. But he has a really good drag-flick, maybe they have other options," added Briels, who finished his studies in podiatry (a medical profession to treat disorders of the lower extremities and feet) in 2015.

The leader in each group at the quadrennial event will go to the quarterfinals directly. Hence the standings of the teams in the group will be very important and with India and Belgium vying for the same spot it will be the encounter between both the teams which is expected to be the most important match of the Pool C.

"I think we both will beat South Africa and Canada if we play to our potential. The match against each other is going to be really important to top the pool. If we draw, goal difference will become important. We have to consider that as well while playing against South Africa and Canada. More goals give you little advantage going into the match against India."

India is ranked fifth and the Belgium team is third on the rankings, so sparks are expected to fly when both the teams meet on December 2 at the Kalinga Stadium in Odisha. The Belgium team’ skipper also praised the Indian team stating that the hosts have improved their defence in recent years.

"They will be prepared to play in front of the home crowd. Last couple of years, their defence has played really well. It's not easy to score against them, and they are dangerous on the counters. So it's going to be tough to beat them," he said.

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